Bruce Smith Drugs misses Dec. 1 goal, now hopes to reopen by first of the year

Bruce Smith Drugs, a Prairie Village landmark since 1955, has closed for "restructuring."
Bruce Smith Drugs, a Prairie Village landmark since 1955, has closed for “restructuring.”

The owner of Bruce Smith Drugs has now set the beginning of the year as the new goal for reopening the store that’s been closed since Nov. 7.

When the closing was announced, Debbie Richmond, pharmacy manager and daughter of owner Bill Richmond, had hoped the longtime Prairie Village retail institution would reopen by December.

The store had been struggling financially for many months, and shut its doors to provide time for what was described as “restructuring.” Customers also were told to find new places to fill their medical prescriptions, a fundamental component of Bruce Smith Drug’s business model.

Richmond said that Dec. 1 goal proved overly optimistic.

“The latest is two more weeks,” she said, adding jokingly, “if it kills me, you can put it on my tombstone, ‘It’s two more weeks.'”

Richmond said once the restructuring is completed, it may still take additional time to restock the store. That could push back the reopening until the beginning of the new year, she noted.

Michelle Pitsenberger, manager for First Washington Realty, the owner of the Village Shops, said her firm is working with Bruce Smith management.

“We continue to work with them for re-opening but we have not confirmed a date as to when they will be opened up again,” she said.

Bruce Smith Drugs has been a Northeast Johnson County landmark since the store opened in the Village Shops in 1955. Bill Richmond started as a soda jerk there before becoming a pharmacist and ultimately buying the business from its namesake.

In its heyday in the 1960s, there were four Bruce Smith Drugs in the metro, including one in the Country Club Plaza. The Plaza store closed in the 1990s.

The decline of Bruce Smith Drugs has been evident for many months. The pharmacy has had difficulty filling prescriptions and in some cases has told customers to go elsewhere for their drug needs. Fewer other products have been on the shelves as well.

At the time the closing was announced, Debbie Richmond observed, “We’re one of the last independents. We’re rare anymore and it’s caught up to us with the price of drugs and insurance companies telling people where to go.”