In the midst of the holiday season, residents of Plantsville and Southington received a letter from Plantsville Pharmacy owners James and Chester Potrepka announcing the end of an era. After over 70 years of business, the pharmacy was set to close, so the longstanding businessmen—a “little guy” that presented strong competition to the big-chain pharmacies—could retire.
“The rumors are true,” confirmed Southington Chamber of Commerce director Taylor Crofton. “Plantsville Pharmacy owners sent a letter to their customers informing them that they, after so many years in business, are retiring.”
Plantsville Pharmacy was an active member of the chamber, and even just last summer, proudly welcomed visitors in during the Chamber’s annual Plantsville walk-through.
“Plantsville Pharmacy was established in 1946 and has been a loyal Chamber member ever since,” said Crofton. “They will be greatly missed in town and as a staple establishment in Plantsville.”
Posters now fill up space on each of the business’s storefront windows advising customers that their prescription records will be transferred to Walgreens at 359 Main St. on the south-east corner of Main Street and Old Turnpike Road.
Back in 2016, the town’s former historian, the late Ken DiMauro published an article on the Historical Society’s website detailing the business’s rich history as they approached their 70th anniversary.
“Although the co-owners of the pharmacy have introduced different products and services to store customers over the years,” wrote DiMauro, “one thing hasn’t changed – personalized service and being able to follow through to help customers.”
Jim’s father Frank Potrepka, and Chet’s father Chester Potrekpa Sr., founded the pharmacy in April 1946 after the brothers purchased its predecessor, Hallahan’s drug store, a pharmacy located in downtown Plantsville since the Great Depression.
Jim Potrepka told DiMauro that in today’s competitive, technology-supported business climate, people who are telephoning usually get automated phone systems with voicemails or telling them to press a key for customer service.
“Doctors and customers are amazed that pharmacists and owners answer the phones,” Jim told DiMauro.
Originally, a soda fountain and counter with stools were located in the pharmacy. Chet Jr. and Jim, who both followed in their fathers’ footsteps, said in the article that this wasn’t unusual for local drug stores to have an ample lunch counter or soda fountain where customers could enjoy a banana split, milkshake, cherry soda or ice cream cone while waiting for their prescriptions to be filled.
Though the business made some changes over time in order to keep up with the field, they managed to retain its old-fashioned service and work ethic. They even stored some of the antique equipment in a backroom, including a balance weighing device from the 19th century and old apothecary medicine jars still on display above the prescription counter.
It is unclear at this time what will become of the downtown Plantsville storefront.
“If residents are looking for a place to move their prescriptions and their small town patronage, I would urge them to choose either Serafino Pharmacy or Beacon Prescriptions,” said Crofton. “Both pharmacies provide an individual, personalized experience for the customer that may not be found in the larger chain retailers.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.