Photos by Blake Belleman
Recently, Costa Drugs, the family-run business that has been a staple of the Scranton community for nearly one hundred years, was forced to close the doors of all of its sites permanently. The Independent Gazette visited their main location on the evening of their last night open, and were surprised that longtime customers continued to stop in, and that the Costa family, albeit with heavy hearts, kept filling prescriptions and giving advice, as if it were business as usual, right down to the last second.
One could tell that their patrons had become like family through the years, many simply wanting to take one last stroll around the pharmacy, offer their heartfelt goodbyes, and send the Costa family and employees off with well-wishes. Customers, especially the elderly, many of whom have been getting their medications (with a dose of friendship) from Costas for decades, seemed forlorn and somewhat “lost.” People realize and are afraid that they are not going to receive the personal treatment typically available from a small, family drug store at the likes of a Rite-Aid or Wal-Mart, but as small businesses increasingly continue to have to shut down due to not being able to “keep up” with larger, cheaper pharmacies, the public may not have a choice but to interact with the giant chains.
One female employee, with tear trails staining her cheeks, relayed how she had taken a job with Costa’s for something to do after her husband passed away, and how she grew to love the work, the family, and the clients so much that she ended up staying for thirty years. Seeing the wistful look in her eye as each customer left for the last time, and the increasing shaking of her hands as the clock wound down to the final closing hour, this reporter could tell that she gladly would stay and work for thirty more, if given the chance. “How can small businesses stay alive these days? We can’t compete with the huge stores — it’s so sad. Tonight we have to close our doors for the last time, I can’t believe it,” she uttered in amazement, all the while trying to maintain composure and a comforting smile for her “regulars.”
The Independent Gazette would like to commend Costa’s for their many years of service to the community, and note that many citizens have expressed to us that they will miss the institution dearly.