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April 9, 2015

Marshall pharmacy closing after 34 years in business

Photo/Ellen Fox Emerson
Wayne Spellman fills his last prescriptions Saturday, April 4, completing almost 34 years as a pharmacist in Marshall. Other pharmacists will continue to serve customers in Marshall until early next month.
It’s difficult, because we have loyal customers . . . . And there are still lots of folks out there, especially older customers, who want to talk with their pharmacist.
— Holder Trumbo, Marshall IGA owner
Marshall IGA Pharmacy
• Where: 8382 W Main St., in 3,000 square feet of grocery.

• Founded: 1981 as Marshall Pharmacy by Wayne Spellman and partners in adjacent building; moved to grocery store in 1983.

• Owners: Trumbo family, who purchased the business in 2007.

• Sold:
To CVS this year. Customer records will transfer to Warrenton store on Tuesday, May 5.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
For the first time in almost a century, northern Fauquier will have no pharmacy as of early next month.

The Marshall IGA Pharmacy’s owners announced Saturday they have sold the prescription drug business to CVS.

“After careful consideration and with some sadness, we are announcing that we are transferring the ownership to the CVS Pharmacy,” owner Holder Trumbo wrote in a letter posted on the grocery’s entrance. “On Tuesday, May 5th, 2015, your prescription records will be confidentially transferred to the CVS . . . in Warrenton, and we will cease operations.”

Government regulations and insurance changes made it impractical for the independent pharmacy to remain in business, said Mr. Trumbo, whose grocery will expand into the drug store space.

The pharmacy started in May 1981.

Covington native Wayne Spellman and two partners opened the Marshall Pharmacy in 1,100 square feet of the former Western Auto building at Main and Frost streets. They rented that space from the late Bob Trumbo, the adjacent IGA’s owner.

In 1983, Mr. Trumbo expanded his grocery and the pharmacy rented about 3,000 square feet in the back of the building.

“It was the first Fauquier supermarket with a pharmacy in the store,” Holder Trumbo said.

The Trumbo family in January 2007 bought the drug store business, but Mr. Spellman continued as the lead pharmacist. The 62-year-old Warrenton resident retired Saturday, working his last day in Marshall.

“I feel very fortunate,” Mr. Spellman said. “The folks of Fauquier County, and particularly around Marshall, have been wonderful. I started here in 1981, hoping I could stay 10 years before a chain (pharmacy) came.”

The Medical College of Virginia graduate filled prescriptions, answered questions and counseled local customers for almost 34 years.

“It’s been a pleasure,” Mr. Spellman said. “I never expected to be able to practice the way I wanted to for so long.”

His coworker Nav Patel and other pharmacists will continue to serve customers in Marshall until early next month.

Because of Marshall’s residential growth and improved water system, Mr. Spellman hopes and believes a new pharmacy will open in the village.

Since the late “Toby” Merchant’s family sold The Plains Pharmacy and the purchaser closed it about seven years ago, the Marshall store has provided the only prescription drug service in northern Fauquier. A pharmacy had operated in The Plains since the 1940s. Marshall got its first drug store in the 1920s but had none when Mr. Spellman and his partners started their business.

Change has remained constant in the industry since the 1970s, he said.

But, consolidation and the power of large insurance companies more recently have made it almost impossible for independents to compete, according to Mr. Trumbo and Mr. Spellman.

In some cases, the Marshall pharmacy paid more for prescription drugs than it received in payment. In others, insurance companies will pay for only the first three fillings of a prescription, forcing patients to buy from mail-order pharmacies or pay the entire cost at a local store.

Although he explored options to keep the pharmacy open, Mr. Trumbo said that business environment, combined with Mr. Spellman’s plan to retire, made it impossible.

“Wayne’s the kind of guy you just can’t replace,” he added. “It’s difficult, because we have loyal customers . . . . And there are still lots of folks out there, especially older customers, who want to talk with their pharmacist.”

He wouldn’t speculate on how the pharmacy’s closing might affect the grocery business, which has benefitted from customers doing other shopping while picking up prescriptions.

“Change is constant and we’ll have to adapt,” Mr. Trumbo said. “We’ll redesign shelving and displays and integrate the pharmacy space in the rest of the store.”

In his notice on the door, the grocer added: “As we leave this business, it is our fervent hope that insurance executives and our legislators come to recognize the value of the independent and that new healthcare reforms will change this trend. However, at this time, given the current economic climate and after investigating several options, for us the merger with CVS is the best solution to these problems.”

On Tuesday, May 5, customer prescription records will transfer to the CVS at 510 Blackwell Road in Warrenton. The Marshall IGA Pharmacy phone and fax lines also will transfer to that store.

The closing will leave Fauquier with two independent pharmacies: the Remington Drug Co. and the WeCare Pharmacy in Warrenton’s North Rock shopping center.

Mr. Spellman said he will spend time helping his brother with the family farm near Covington.

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Abstract · April 16, 2015 at 3:16 pm
oh no Huge loss for us all, our community. Wayne, Andy, Janet are extraordinary folks who have gone beyond, make that light years beyond any other Pharmacy we have used. I am so upset to know this. I do not want to go all the way to Warrenton. I wish we could save The Marshall Pharmacy, somehow !
Jim Griffin · April 14, 2015 at 6:54 am
One step forward, two steps back for Marshall, the town that is stuck in yesteryear. Sometimes it seems it needs to start over again. Fortunately, Tom McMillen and his team have stepped in to work on Main Street, but we need leadership in Marshall to pick up where the excellent Peter Schwartz is leaving off.
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