by CHRIS ROGERS
After 132 years, Goltz Pharmacy went out of business last week. The company had been one of Winona’s oldest businesses and an independent, local pharmacy in an industry increasingly dominated by large chains.
Dan Goltz’s great-grandfather founded Goltz Pharmacy in 1888, and Dan Goltz joined the family business in eighth grade shoveling snow before earning his degree in pharmacy and joining the shop as a pharmacist in 1975. He still remembers the moment, as a child, when seeing his grandfather’s dedication inspired Dan to follow in his footsteps. His family had just sat down to Christmas dinner. “[My grandpa] gets a phone call and he says, ‘I’ll be right down,’” Dan Goltz remembered. “I said, ‘Where you going, Grandpa?’ He said, ‘I’ve got to go to the pharmacy. Someone is sick.’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s Christmas.’ But he thought nothing of it … I thought, such professionalism and such care for the community — I want to be like that.”
Dan Goltz sold the family business in 2016 to Colony RX, a small chain. Colony RX Marketing Manager Cynthya Porter said the new owners had been reinvesting in the Winona pharmacy before a sudden change in the prescription insurance market threatened the business’s future.
“This pharmacy was doing great, and that is not hyperbole at all,” Porter said. “I’ve been working with them for about six and half months. They had just gone through and put a really great staff in place, they had people that were good at their jobs and customers liked them, and they had brand new window decals all over the front of the building. They bought the building two months ago, so they had no intention of closing this pharmacy, and by buying the building, they thought they were planting very deep roots for it. But then everyone got a letter who was in Medicare Part D plans.”
Major Medicare Part D plans were changing their coverage for pharmacies other than the plans’ partner pharmacies. “All these customers who had been Goltz customers for generations, all of sudden they’d have to pay co-pays of up to $25 per prescription. Before they’d had to pay nothing,” Porter said. “It was a situation where they felt the writing was on the wall. It was kind of a crushing blow for them. because they had just spent the last several months building this business up,” she added.
Goltz Pharmacy sold and transferred its prescription accounts to Walgreens. Porter said the Colony RX owners felt Walgreens could provide the best services for its former customers. Walgreens Media Specialist Phil Caruso said, “We are excited and looking forward to welcoming our patients and really making sure that these patients of Goltz that had trusted them for so many years are welcome at Walgreens and still have a place to get their prescriptions.”
“I was very disappointed to see yesterday that they had closed,” Dan Goltz said in an interview last week. However, he added, “In all fairness, the business climate is very terrible for pharmacies.” Large insurance companies dictate meagerly prices to small pharmacies, which lack the leverage to negotiate better prices, he explained. “The insurance industry has decimated pharmacies in general,” Goltz said.