Santa Paula Times

Medicine Shoppe sold: Fire was too
much to overcome for longtime pharmacy

June 27, 2014
Santa Paula News

The Medicine Shoppe, the only pharmacy on Santa Paula’s eastside that has been serving customers for more than three decades abruptly closed Tuesday.

The business, which had been owned by members of the Hishmeh family since 1998, was sold to Rite Aid Corporation, which has a pharmacy on the corner of Harvard Boulevard and Palm Avenue.

The closure, said Sam Hishmeh of Hishmeh Enterprises, “Was very unfortunate... “

The Medicine Shoppe was located in the same shopping center, located in the 400 block of Highway 150/Ojai-Santa Paula Road, as the Hishmeh Enterprises owned Dominos Pizza; the strip mall was shared with two other tenants.

In April a dryer in the coin-operated laundry in the strip mall caught fire also heavily damaging the adjacent pharmacy.

Although the building was uninhabitable, The Medicine Shoppe was back up and running the next day with Dominos drivers delivering prescriptions filled at the Ojai Medicine Shoppe. Although the eatery was quickly reopened it was expected The Medicine Shoppe would be able to reoccupy its space in six to eight weeks but the work took longer while the pharmacy conducted business from a trailer.

Namal Hishmeh, a pharmacist and co-owner of The Medicine Shoppe, said selling the business, “Was very sad for me... the fire hurt the physical building and the business too,” with many patients switching their prescriptions following the fire. 

In addition, new business stopped, said one former employee who asked not be named: “People heard there was a fire, you could see the building was burned up and they didn’t send their prescriptions here... “ 

Namal Hishmeh said when Rite Aid contacted the family “We accepted their offer,” for the Santa Paula business, a transaction that was “very recent and very quick.”

Namal Hishmeh, who will be a pharmacist at the Ojai Medicine Shoppe, said Wednesday, “The last two days were the hardest days of my life... we had six employees and we love them so much. When Rite Aid offered to buy the pharmacy our condition was that every single employee be interviewed by them... it will be their decision whether or not they want to join Rite Aid.”

Employees were given two weeks notice of the closure and told they would receive “about four weeks of severance pay... they were wonderful employees and I will miss them.”

Namal Hishmeh said she would also miss the customers who, due to pharmacy industry and Rite Aid purchase policy could not be informed of the sale.

“That happens all the time,” with buyouts said Hishmeh, and, “We informed the employees but had to go by the procedure they set,” concerning notification of customers.

Although all prescriptions formerly filled by the Santa Paula Medicine Shoppe were transferred to Rite Aid, Namal Hishmeh said customers who would prefer to use another pharmacy can contact Rite Aid and request that their prescription be transferred to the pharmacy of their choice.

The sole reason for the closure Hishmeh emphasized was the April fire: “It affected our business horribly and it was not easy to stay in business. Without the fire we would have stayed... we were happy, had good employees, wonderful patients just the situation that happened,” did not allow the business to continue.

“I’m so very sorry to leave this business,” said Namal Hishmeh, “Santa Paula is a just wonderful town... and I’m going to miss everybody.” 

Sam Hishmeh said the future of the Santa Paula Dominos, one of more than 70 in California and Arizona owned by Hishmeh Enterprises, is more than secure. 

“The closure of The Medicine Shoppe had nothing to do with Dominos... it’s healthier than ever and loving the town, loving doing business there.

“The Santa Paula Dominos was the first we opened up, we’re emotionally attached to that one,” and Sam Hishmeh said plans are to expand the local pizza business.