“A real loss to the area,” “so sad to hear this!!” and so on, went dozens of posts on social media when the Village Pharmacy II in Maple Village closed. The owners sold the business to Walgreens across the road, which offered jobs to all VP II employees. The helpful pharmacist Al Knaak made the move across Jackson Rd.
“Al” was specifically mentioned by a lot of the mourners. He was formerly a part-owner of Village Pharmacy II, itself part of a small group started by pharmacist Fred Schmid. Schmid’s daughters Marni Schmid and Jennifer Acra bought VP II a few years ago, along with the Dexter Pharmacy, which they still operate. (There never was a Village Pharmacy I in Ann Arbor–the “II” was due to the existence of another Village Pharmacy somewhere in Michigan when Schmid filed incorporation papers years ago.)
Schmid says he got his U-M pharmacy degree in 1968, when a completely plausible career path was to “find an underserved area and open a pharmacy. You could have a successful business filling 100 prescriptions a day.” At one point he owned four pharmacies. But that formula won’t work anymore with Ann Arbor’s high rents, he says–especially after years of eroding profits from drug manufacturers’ price hikes and increasingly stingy insurance and Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements.
Schmid puts the blame on Obamacare, but Ann Arbor had few independent pharmacies left by the time the ACA was signed in 2010–2003’s Medicare Part D had already felled a number of them, and, before that, computers and their growing capability to store and centralize records had already caused pharmacies to coalesce into cartels. At any rate, Schmid says it’s possible for an indie pharmacist to “lose thirty to forty dollars filling a prescription, but you can’t not fill it.” His daughters are both MBAs, he says, and better equipped to deal with today’s pharmacy economics.
Asked why the Pizza Hut on Jackson near Zeeb closed, an employee at the Pizza Hut across town, on Carpenter and Packard, said, “I would love to know, because that was my store and they made me transfer.” “They” is Redberry Resto Brands, owner of a lot of area Pizza Hut franchises. To venture a guess, there’s a fast food overload at that corner, and older fast food franchises like Pizza Hut and McDonald’s are having a rough time competing with fresher faces like Culver’s and Panera.
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