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UPDATE: Landlord wants to replace Geiger’s pharmacy with market

A tradition will end this month with the closure of the Geiger Rexall Pharmacy in downtown Port Orchard, but the landlord hopes the business will be replaced with something that will enhance downtown.

“It’s a little unnerving,” pharmacist Bob Geiger said of the decision. “I’m a creature of habit, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do. But after 59 years, maybe it’s time to take a break.”

Geiger, who will be 81 later this month, also spent 45 years on the Port Orchard City council.

He retired from the council in 2007.

“He’s done a tremendous amount for the community,” said City Councilman Rob Putaansuu. “He deserves the time off.”

The store began a liquidation sale yesterday and expects to close by the end of July.

The building is owned by Dick and Shirley Vlist.

Van Vlist, who runs a car dealership across the street from the pharmacist, which has occupied the location since 1977, said, “Bob and Ursula Geiger are great people. I will miss them.”

The 3,100-square-foot pharmacy space occupies the bottom floor, with offices above.

Vlist said he will be selective in renting the area, and does not want to see another bail bonds business take occupancy.

“I’d like to see a grocery-related store,” Vlist said. “Downtown needs something more upscale than just beer and cigarettes. A lot of boaters and tourists are looking for groceries, and the people who live downtown have to go four miles just to get a gallon of milk.”

Vlist said he has at least two merchants interested in the space. He would not identify them, aside from saying, “They already run similar-sized stores outside of Port Orchard.”

He also declined to say how much the rent will be.

Vlist acknowledges the bad economy but still thinks a quality food business will thrive.

“People haven’t quit eating,” he said.

Geiger’s retirement is enough of a landmark, but he is closing a business that has been in continuous operation since 1888, according to his son, Brian Geiger.

Geiger and his wife are two of the three full-time employees, with three part-timers also working at the store.

Geiger had a stroke just before Memorial Day, and Brian Geiger has been pitching in.

Geiger’s decision to retire is sudden, according to his son, and is for health reasons.

Geiger tried to sell the business but found no takers. Brian Geiger said any potential buyer would need to own and operate the business and be a licensed pharmacist.

"There aren’t many people like that anymore," he said. "They are all working for the big chains."

The disposition of the customer list, which Geiger estimates numbers in the thousands, is undetermined at present.

Anyone who gets their prescriptions from Geiger will need to find another source within the next few weeks.

Geiger may sell the list to another pharmacy but many of the customers might not transfer, according to Brian Geiger.

“A lot of people get their prescriptions here because they like him," Brian said of his father. "They ask his advice about all kinds of things, not all of them pharmaceutical."

Brian Geiger doesn’t know what his parents will do after the store closes, but predicts they will remain active.

“They went to Sweden last year,” he said. “So maybe there’s more travel in the future.”

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