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Drug stores merge with new Thrifty White in Olivia

Shelby Lindrud / Tribune City leaders are hoping to find new business opportunities to utilize both the Page and Olivia Drug buildings so they don't stand empty for long.1 / 5
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune Gary Lohmeyer and his wife, Jane, have owned Olivia Drug for 40 years. On Feb. 28 it will close as the business merges with Thrifty White Pharmacy. Lohmeyer said he will miss the business, which includes an ice cream and coffee shop.2 / 5
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune The array of gift products are already on sale at Olivia Drug, as the Thrifty White won't being selling such items.3 / 5
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune Olivia Drug is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 212 and Ninth Street in Olivia, at the city's only traffic light. Lohmeyer hopes someone will want to take on the building and perhaps keep the ice cream and coffee shop running.4 / 5
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune Page Snyder Drug also has a large front end selling everything from clothes and jewelry to home decor and toys. How Page will go about selling those items has yet to be released.5 / 5

OLIVIA — A big change is coming to the retail landscape of Olivia as long-time businesses Olivia Drug and Page Snyder Drug are preparing to close their doors for good as Thrifty White Pharmacy nears its opening.

"Thrifty White Pharmacy is very excited to expand in Olivia and looks forward to providing for the health care needs of the community," reads a press release from Thrifty White announcing the merger.

Both Page and Olivia Drug will be merging with Thrifty White, with all of the medication inventory from both pharmacies being transferred over to Thrifty White.

Thrifty White is set to open its new location, next to the RC Hospital, on Feb. 7. The day prior, on Feb. 6, Page Drug will be closing at 3 p.m. to begin the change in ownership.

"We are confident that Thrifty White Pharmacy will work hard to merit their trust and serve the area with all your pharmacy needs," Page Snyder Drug owner Dr. Scott Nelson said in the press release announcing the merger. In the release, Nelson also thanked the patrons of Page Drug and the employees for their years of service. He declined to comment beyond what was stated in the release.

Olivia Drug will be closing Feb. 28 at 3 p.m., with its medication inventory also transfering over to Thrifty White.

"That will be our last, final day," said Gary Lohmeyer, who, along with his wife, Jane, has owned and operated Olivia Drug for 40 years.

Lohmeyer said Thrifty White approached him regarding a possible merger about a year ago and it was not an easy decision.

In the end, Lohmeyer felt Thrifty White would serve his pharmacy customers well. Once he was told all his employees, along with himself, would be offered jobs with Thrifty White, Lohmeyer was even more at peace with his decision. Jobs have also been offered to employees of Page Snyder Drug, according to the press release.

"I liked what I saw there, an employee-owned company," Lohmeyer said. "A good fit for a small town like this."

Dave Rueter, vice president of personnel with Thrifty White, said the Olivia location will sell both prescription and over-the-counter medication, along with other health and wellness products. The pharmacy also has the medication synchronization program, which manages all the monthly medications of a customer so they can be picked up all at the same time.

"One bag, one talk with the pharmacist. You are set for the month," Rueter said.

What Thrifty White in Olivia won't have is gifts, decor or other household products.

"We shifted as a pharmacy to focus on pharmacy," Rueter said.

This means the large front ends of both Page, which had a wide range of offerings from clothes and jewelry to books and toys, and Olivia Drug, which included an ice cream parlor, coffee and gifts, won't be continuing. Lohmeyer understands city residents will miss those. For many, coming to Olivia Drug for a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone was part of their daily lives. However, the time had come for Olivia Drug to move on.

"We had to be realistic about it. It was the best way to go for all of us," Lohmeyer said. "Times change and you have to change with them."

Lohmeyer said they have already discounted much of the gift stock, but he hopes someone will be open to purchasing the building, with the ice cream parlor intact.

"I hope someone can see that opportunity and make this possible. I'm very confident," Lohmeyer said.

The city of Olivia is hoping for the same thing. The closing of Olivia Drug and Page Snyder is a blow to the community.

"It feels like a loss because it is," City Administrator Dan Coughlin said, adding the initial reaction to the news was acknowledging that two pieces of Olivia's culture were going away and being replaced with something more generic.

However, he also feels Olivia will survive and lean on its tradition of being forward thinking and innovative.

"Our EDA is ready to pounce," Coughlin said.

The Olivia Economic Development Association has already met this week and the group is discussing ways it can help entrepreneurs interested in opening new ventures in the soon-to-be empty Page and Olivia Drug buildings.

"We are really hoping we can get something worked out, just because of the impact of those two businesses on our community," Olivia Mayor Sue Hilgert said. "It doesn't have to be something more traditional. It can be more innovative, out of the box."

While Lohmeyer believes merging with Thrifty White is the best thing to do, that doesn't mean he won't miss Olivia Drug.

"We'll look back and remember all the customers we've had," Lohmeyer said. "The good thing is we'll still be able to see them at the new location. It is like we are family here."