Stout’s Pharmacy shuts doors after 116 years

PARKERSBURG – A local pharmacy’s legacy has come to an end this week as the Stout’s Pharmacy on Dudley Avenue closed its doors for good.

For more than 116 years, there has been a Stout’s Pharmacy in Parkersburg. From its well-known location on Market Street that once had an ice cream counter to other locations in Mineral Wells and St. Marys over the years, the Stout’s Pharmacies have been a part of many people’s lives.

The last Stout’s Pharmacy, at 3007 Dudley Ave. in Parkersburg, closed on Wednesday.

The pharmacy’s inventory and other stuff were sold to CVS Pharmacies and other companies to liquidate its gift store inventory. Customers are being directed to the CVS Pharmacy at 2323 Murdoch Ave. to get their prescriptions filled.

“We have just decided to sell,” said owner Bruce Pfalzgraf. “We have had this store for 15 years.”

Pfalzgraf said changes in the insurance industry have made it difficult for many independent pharmacies to do business.

“Over the past 10 years or so, it has really hurt the bottom line,” he said. “I just got scared and thought I had better get out while I was still able to.

“It was the uncertainty of the future that had me worried.”

When they decided to sell, Pfalzgraf hired a broker to get offers.

“There was some bidding, and CVS made the best offer to us,” he said. “They are going to take me and my staff so people aren’t going to lose their jobs over this.

“It seemed like a win-win situation all around.”

Around five employees are expected to make the move to CVS with Pfalzgraf starting in the pharmacy today. A couple of employees, who owned their own businesses and were getting up in age, decided not to make the transition.

Their building was expected to be emptied by the end of Thursday, said co-owner Molly Pfalzgraf.

“We will end up selling it,” she said.

Pfalzgraf has worked at Stout’s Pharmacy for 28 years, starting out working for the previous owner Bob Stout before purchasing the business from him.

Owning the business has been a personal highlight for Bruce Pfalzgraf.

“It has been the best 15 years I have ever had,” he said. “It was fun and I enjoyed it a lot.”

However, increasing insurance demands and regulations took a lot of the joy out of it for him.

“You had to watch everything,” he said. “It took away from the time with your patients.

“I like being a pharmacist. Maybe I don’t like being a businessman as much. I just enjoy people.”

When he told their customers that he was going down to the CVS on Murdoch, many said they would go down there so they could continue to be served by him.

Pfalzgraf had a quote framed in the pharmacy that summed up his approach to the pharmacy business.

“Excellence with love. ‘Excellence’ as in providing the very best prescription service. ‘Love,’ as in placing great value on each customer,” it said.

“That is why people came here,” Molly Pfalzgraf said. “He called them by name when they walked in. They knew who he was.

“That is what they liked because that has been lacking in a lot of places.”

The Pfalzgrafs were grateful for all of the support they have gotten over the years.

“We just wanted to thank everyone for their patronage over the years and their loyalty,” Bruce said.

The location is the last of the Stout Pharmacies, but Bruce Pfalzgraf points out the era really ended when Bob Stout sold it to him.

Many people thought Bruce was related to the Stout family, as many people who came to the pharmacy referred to him as “Dr. Stout.”

Many people still have memories of the Stout’s location on Market Street.

“Even to this day we have people calling in to order a pie because they used to bake pies,” Bruce Pfalzgraf said with a laugh.

An old stained glass sign that hung in the original Stout’s Pharmacy on Market Street has hung in the Dudley Avenue location for a long time.

The Pfalzgrafs are planning to take it home with them. If they can’t find a place for it, they might give it to Bob Stout.

There are a lot of memories associated with Stout’s, Molly Pfalzgraf said.

“There is a lot of history there,” she said.