Arlington Pharmacy Ends Eight Decades of Filling Prescriptions

The Arlington Pharmacy in Kensington ceased being a pharmacy Tuesday, ending more than 80 years of filling prescriptions. It will remain open but can no longer afford the rising cost of prescription medication, the owner said.

The Arlington Pharmacy in Kensington, a community anchor since around 1929, ended a long tradition Tuesday when it stopped filling prescriptions.

"Drug costs have increased a lot basically," owner Wing Gee told Patch. "My store is still open, but the pharmacy department is closed."

Gee, who's owned the business for 19 years, said he's transferred all of the prescription files to the CVS drugstore at 1382 Solano Ave. in Albany.

His store will remain open, providing over-the-counter drugs, miscellaneous merchandise, gifts and its locally famous postal service, Gee said. The drugstore also serves as a post office.

Gee said he will need to change the name of the business since it no longer operates as a pharmacy and is still considering what new name to choose.

He said he's received "mixed reactions" from his customers. "People are going to miss the local pharmacist," he said.

"I thought I would be a pharmacist here forever," he said. "I love the neighborhood, but times are changing."

Even though his store is evenually reimbursed by health insurance companies for the drugs it buys, the "skyrocketingly high" cost of the drugs has created too heavy a financial burden for his business to bear during the often long delay before he receives reimbursement, Gee said.

"Big Pharma companies have increased their prices drastically," he said.

A notice from Gee posted on the door of the business says in part, "Thank you, my friends, for supporting me all these years. I am grateful to have been able to be part of your community and cherish all of your love and friendship these last 19 years."

Kensington lost another kind of service on Dec. 24 when the Sugar Cone Cafe across the street from the Arlington Pharmacy closed its doors after more than two years in business.

Karen Taberski January 09, 2013 at 09:42 PM
This is really sad. I've been going to Arlington Pharmacy for over 20 years. I will really miss Wing's friendly greetings and personalized service. At least the rest of the store will remain open. It should be an historic landmark.
Toni Mayer January 10, 2013 at 02:57 AM
I'm sorry the pharmacy's closing, though I only used it for OTC stuff, but I love the post office and the store and am glad they're staying. I agree about supporting local businesses.
R. W. Lloyd January 10, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Wing Gee and the Arlington Pharmacy owners before him have been a service landmark in Kensington. It is the first business you see coming home northward on the Arlington. The tradition going all the way back to Louie Stein has always been a Kensington Pharmacy. We have been patronizing the establishment since 1975 when we basically arrived in California. Wing gave afterschool jobs to both of our daughters. The city is deeply indepted to the pharmacy over these years for their commitment. We will continue to do business there even though they cannot provide our prescriptions. Best of luck to the Gee family and we thank you for your services. R.W. Lloyd - President KPPCSD
Gail Grenke (maiden name: Brumbaugh) January 15, 2013 at 02:08 AM
Insurance companies don't care about anyone. All they care about is money. If they were halfway decent, they wouldn't have made Wing Gee wait so long for his reimbursments! They want their money up front, but the little guy has to close part of his business because of their greed. I live in Wisconsin now, but I'm from the El Cerrito area (Tamalpais Ct, just a block or so from the Arlington) and I remember that store well. I'm just glad Wing Gee is able to keep the rest of the store open. When I make it back to my home town...I'll make a special trip to his store to buy my gifts and anything else I find to my liking! Gail (Brumbaugh) Grenke Formerly of El Cerrito, now Kimberly, WI
Martha Vlahos January 15, 2013 at 10:42 PM
We've used Wing to fill our prescriptions and give us advice for all the time he's been there and will miss this incredible service, five minutes from our home. Nothing can beat the choice or cards and gifts, though... and the convenience of the post office so we'll still come to the store. Thank you Wing Gee, and good luck!


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