Cheyenne Latu (left), a pharmacy technician at Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe, and business co-owner Gretchen Watts hang a poster at the front counter Thursday announcing the store’s closure after Dec. 6 as Jessica Kirtley, another pharmacy technician, works at the front register. The nearby Safeway supermarket has agreed to take the prescriptions of all customers as well as hire all of the independent pharmacy’s employees, according to the co-owners who are retiring. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Cheyenne Latu (left), a pharmacy technician at Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe, and business co-owner Gretchen Watts hang a poster at the front counter Thursday announcing the store’s closure after Dec. 6 as Jessica Kirtley, another pharmacy technician, works at the front register. The nearby Safeway supermarket has agreed to take the prescriptions of all customers as well as hire all of the independent pharmacy’s employees, according to the co-owners who are retiring. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe closing after nearly 50 years as co-owners retire; last day is Dec. 6

Safeway taking over all prescriptions and offering jobs to all employees, according to owners.

Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe is closing after nearly 50 years due to the retirement of its current owners, who were unsuccessful in efforts to sell the business, with the nearby Safeway pharmacy agreeing to accept the prescriptions of all customers as well as offering jobs to all current employees, the independent pharmacy’s owners announced Thursday.

The last day of business for the pharmacy located at the south end of the Mendenhall Mall is Wednesday, Dec. 6, according to a letter posted by Scott and Gretchen Watts on the company’s Facebook page.

“After years of serving the community and much thought, we have decided to retire and with a heavy heart, close Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe,” the letter states. “For nearly 50 years, Ron’s has been a cherished part of the community and we’ve been honored to carry on its legacy to serve the families of Juneau the past 22 years. Your trust, friendship and loyalty over the years has meant the world and it’s been the greatest privilege to serve this loving community.”

Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe, which is closing after Dec. 6 after nearly 50 years in business, started in a retail complex near Juneau International Airport before moving to its longtime location at the south end of Mendenhall Mall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe, which is closing after Dec. 6 after nearly 50 years in business, started in a retail complex near Juneau International Airport before moving to its longtime location at the south end of Mendenhall Mall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Scott Watts, in an interview Thursday morning, said the couple has been trying to find a buyer for the pharmacy since just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“After three years of trying, going through several attempted purchases that fell through, this was our option — that Safeway provided an option to take care of our existing customers and provided a good package for all of our existing employees, which were my two biggest concerns,” he said.

The store has nine employees “besides myself and my wife,” and probably fills a couple hundred prescriptions during busy days, Scott Watts said.

A local Safeway manager referred questions to the media department of its parent company Albertsons Companies Inc. Inquires to the company’s media department in Idaho did not get a response by late Thursday afternoon.

Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe was started by Ron Sedgwick in the mid 1970s in a retail complex near Juneau’s airport before the store relocated to its current location. Scott Watts came to Juneau in 1989, initially working at Fred Meyer as a staff pharmacist.

“From school I enjoyed the sciences and the ability to work in smaller communities, so that just had an appeal to me,” he said. “I liked helping people — I mean, a lot of us, that’s what keeps us going.”

Scott Watts purchased Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe with wife in 2001, which he said was “an opportunity expand our services.”

“I liked the family atmosphere and the independent pharmacy,” he said.

But the final few years were tough due to the pandemic, Scott Watts said. The company made the decision to close the pharmacy it had operated since 2016 inside Foodland IGA on June 1 of last year, citing at the time the inability to hire a new pharmacist to replace the departing one.

Making the decision to close the original store as well was difficult, despite the long effort to find a buyer, Scott Watts said.

“It’s very, very mixed feelings,” he said. “Retirement sounds great. But closing the store is gut-wrenching right now.”

However, after so many years helping others with their health, Scott Watts said retirement should allow himself and his wife a chance to boost their own well-being.

“We’re going to take a deep breath and think about it for a little bit, but work on health and fitness,” he said. “Outdoor hiking, we’re going to be going with the weather, rather than banking everything on the weekends.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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