By TONY BELLISSIMO
A fixture in the Merrick business community since 1947, Savall Drugs closed on May 21 after owner Robert Klieger came to terms on an agreement to sell his inventory to CVS Pharmacy.
“Starting in January, it became increasingly more difficult to run the store based on insurance companies’ prescription plans,” said Klieger, whose uncle, Harold Mindell, was the original owner.
“I had to put money into the store to keep it going, and I could only do that for so long,” Klieger said. “I really didn’t want to sell, but CVS is a very well-run company and will take good care of the customers. I had a wonderful 43 years at the store and come away with a little money for retirement. Life is good.”
Erica Sheid, of Merrick, said prescriptions were never on her list of things to worry about thanks to Savall. “I felt cared for, and cared about at Savall — they knew my name when I came in.” she said. “I had [a] drug sensitivity, which they had on record. The staff would say, ‘Don’t you have trouble with that antibiotic?’”
A Merrick resident for 56 years, Klieger, 75, had three full-time employees and a short list of part-timers. He still owns the storefront, and said he was looking to sell or rent it. “It has become tough for small, independent drug stores to stay in business,” he said.
Savall was a go-to store for Dr. Andrea Cunha, a Wantagh podiatrist. “I’ve had many occasions to do business with Savall for many of my patients’ needs,” she said. “It was a pleasure consulting with a mom-and-pop-type pharmacy. The staff was always very knowledgeable and professional, always putting my patients’ care first. Doctors like myself appreciate the prompt service. [I’m] sad to see them go.”
Brittany Janowitz, who grew up in North Merrick and now lives in Bellmore, recalled being quite sick as a child with a snowstorm coming. “Savall made a home delivery because they knew how much I needed my prescriptions, and they didn’t want my parents leaving the house,” she recalled. “It’s a shame they’re closing. I’m so thankful for them to this day.”
Klieger said he spent 10 days at the Merrick Mall CVS greeting some of his former customers and helping them make the transition a smooth one. “I’m going to miss the customers for sure,” he said. “We had over 100 per day. I feel very blessed to have had great customers and employees for all these years.”
Andrew Panaro, a Merrick resident for more than four decades, noted the “beautiful big neon sign” that hung at Savall’s. “The fact they knew your name when you walked in the place was just wonderful,” he said.
Savall was a two-time Merrick Chamber of Commerce Merchant of the Year.
“We wish Mr. Klieger the best in his retirement and acknowledge his many years of service to the Merrick community,” said CVS Manager of Retail Communications Matt Blanchette. “CVS Pharmacy has enjoyed meeting our new patients and providing them with industry leading products and services that will help them on their path to better health.”