NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Dave Halla has spent the better part of his adult life behind the counter of Gray’s Pharmacy, filling prescriptions. He is just now realizing that he has also filled the hearts of people in his community.
Old friends came out of the woodwork Tuesday on the store’s final day of operation and memories came out of a crumpled old paper bag. Halla pointed to a picture of the day bought the store across the street from Old Dominion University on Hampton Boulevard in 1989.
It looked a lot different back then, with a large soda fountain and pay phone booths. It has undergone several remodels. In fact, it was actually founded in the parking lot in 1918, and moved into the building in 1949.
Customer Bev Graeber remembers the old soda fountain fondly.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a child. I used to love their limeades,” she told WAVY.com.
What has kept her and so many others coming back? Dave.
“Dave has been so special,” she said. “He’s taken excellent care of many people, but one of my dear friends especially.”
Another customer, Deborah Waters said, “[He’s] more than a pharmacist. Dave is a friend.”
All day long, folks came bearing gifts and some — guilt.
“I wish I’d been here more to help keep the place alive,” one woman told Dave.
Halla doesn’t blame them, though.
“I’m a casualty of the low reimbursements,” he told WAVY.com
The insurance companies control his purse strings. With 25 percent of all prescriptions filled now falling below cost, he decided it’s time to call it quits.
“These are people who I love. These are people who I have built a relationship with,” Dave said with tears in his eyes.
All of the prescriptions and store contents are being sold to CVS down the street.