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FAREWELL TO A LEGACY

After 70 years, Loomis Main Drug closes its doors

By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Wednesday saw the closing of a long-time Placer County institution, Main Drug, a pharmacy in Loomis, operated by the Takemoto family for more than seven decades. Hiroshi and Rose Takemoto opened the store in 1945.

Gordon Takemoto, owner and pharmacist at Main Drug, said Tuesday he and his wife, Joanne, have been thinking about retirement for a while. Takemoto sold his pharmacy files to the Target/CVS pharmacy at 5104 Commons Drive in Rocklin and the Main Drug telephone number will be transferred there. His assistant, Matthew Hatashita, has been hired by the same Target/CVS.

“I wanted to sell it to an independent but the deal fell through,” Takemoto said. “I wanted to announce the closing a month earlier but (Target/CVS) wanted us to wait.”

“I’ve been here all my life,” added Takemoto, whose parents opened the store. “Except for being in Alaska with the service and college, I’ve lived my life here.”

Takemoto said Main Drug was more than a job because his customers were his friends.

“I still enjoy it but the pharmacy industry has changed a lot and the insurance industry is killing us. It’s sad,” Takemoto said. “This is where the consumer gets quality care but we are losing people to mail order. Every year is less and less. The bigger stores use pharmacies as loss leaders.”

Takemoto, who owns the building, said he will clean out the store and then step back and relax.

“Different people have approached me with ideas for the building,” Takemoto said. “I want to do something good for the community and the town. Loomis has been real good about improving the downtown.”

“I want to thank all our customers for their patronage and friendship over the years,” Takemoto added.

On Tuesday, a constant stream of long-time customers visited the store to say goodbye. Many visitors wanted one last look at the photo albums kept behind the lunch counter.

Loomis resident Rhonda Wirth has been a customer since 1968, when she moved to town with her parents.

“Now I bring my granddaughter in for ice cream,” Wirth said. “This is the easiest place to shop in Loomis. You’re buying from your friends.”

Wirth ate at the pharmacy’s lunch counter “more times” than she can count.

“You don’t find this kind of service anywhere else. You just don’t,” Wirth said, with tears in her eyes. “I will miss it so much. There’s just a lot.”

Erin Warner, growing up in Loomis, remembers roller-skating to the store to get milkshakes or malteds.

“It’s all leaving now, so sad,” Warner said, referring to other businesses that have closed along Taylor Road, including Christensen’s Saddle and Supply and the Basic Shop. “I’m going to miss Gordon and eating ice cream. One of my daughter’s pictures is on the board.”

Rocklin resident Shirley Fredrickson has been a customer for 30 years.

“They are wonderful and so helpful and I’m about to cry,” Fredrickson said. “The barber my husband used to go to is gone and now the horse place. We’re losing all the good stuff.”

Pam Chinn, of Loomis Beauty Salon, will miss going to the lunch counter in between customers.

“I would visit and drum up business at the same time and go to the monthly birthday parties,” Chinn said. “They are going to be really missed. It’s going to take until it’s not there for me to realize I don’t have a place to go.”

Jenny Knisley, the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, said she was happy for Gordon and Joanne Takemoto and they deserve to relax and enjoy retirement.

“The Takemotos have had a major impact in the Loomis business community,” Knisley said. “Gordon and his father, Hiroshi ‘Doc’ Takemoto, served as chamber presidents in the past, and in 2005, Gordon and Joanne were presented with the Most Neighborly Native award.”

Loomis Town Manager Sean Rabe said losing any downtown business is a concern “because you don’t want empty storefronts.”

“We will do whatever we can to help fill the space quickly,” Rabe said. “There is a lot going on behind the scenes with potential businesses coming to town. There are a couple of potential tenants for the Christensen building that would be a real coup for the town. Empty storefronts are just a reflection of changes in peoples’ lives. The town is not dying.”