Nyack Landmark Koblin’s Pharmacy Changes Hands
By CJ MILLER
Originally published by Nyack Free Press
NYACK – Nyack mainstay Koblin’s Pharmacy has changed hands, but the new owner says it will remain a neighborhood landmark dedicated to serving its customers.
New Jersey resident Jeffrey Rucker, 40, is Koblin’s new pharmacist. He took the business over from lifetime Nyacker Jerry Koblin last November, and Rucker says he’s got big shoes to fill.
“It’s a little overwhelming – it’s a lot to try to live up to. I’m not going to fill Jerry’s shoes, but I will aspire to be as good as he was,” Rucker said on a busy Monday at the bustling village drugstore.
Rucker comes to Nyack with previous pharmaceutical experience – he is part of a group of business owners who own drugstores in West Milford and Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. He says the group’s main goal is to preserve the small-town feel and service of family-owned drugstores without losing the personal touch.
“This is our first store in Rockland. It’s a lot different form where I was,” says Rucker, whose commute from his New Jersey home has increased by about 10 miles. “Overall, Nyack is a unique place and I like the diversity. It’s never a boring day.”
Rucker says his goals include some computer software updates and adding a second morning delivery run to the afternoon schedule that Koblin’s has provided to deliver needed medications and other necessities to its customers.
“Our emphasis is on service to people. The big chain stores may have us on prices and sheer numbers, but we’ll excel with service every time. You can care for the patients that much more when you’re focused on individuals, not numbers,” Rucker said. “Business is picking up a bit now, and deliveries tend to run higher in the winter.”
Many of Koblin’s staff have elected to stay on and work under the new regime, said former owner Jerry Koblin, 76. He hopes his family’s legacy of customer service and dedication to the community will live on.
“It’s been my life,” Koblin said when asked what the business has meant to him over the 60-plus years he’s run it after taking over from his father, David, who founded the pharmacy in 1934. “The opportunity came up to sell it and keep it as an independent pharmacy, so we took it. I tell all my customers they’re still going get better service even if I’m not there.”
Rucker, in the meantime, said he’s dedicated to maintaining the level of personal attention and service Koblin’s is known for, while making a few changes of his own.
“I’m just trying to make it my own without changing anything too much,” Rucker says. “Jerry set the bar pretty damned high. Living up to his standard will be the hardest thing. He’s still such a factor in town. It’s a lot to live up to.”
Nyack Mayor Jen Laird White said she was grateful Koblin’s would remain an anchor business in the village, which is moving forward aggressively with plans to revitalize the riverfront downtown.
“We’re all devastated to lose Jerry, but we’re delighted that Koblin’s is staying,” White said. “In any discussion of the town, there’s a tremendous vested interest in Koblin’s and what do any changes mean for the store. It’s important that the people behind the counter know us. Koblin’s is an excellent remnant of times gone by.”
For Jerry Koblin, who took over the family business after returning from military service in the National Guard in 1968, those “times gone by” bring up memories that make it hard for him to let go.
“As time goes on, I try to visit a little bit less. It just takes time,” Kobin said from his Nyack home Tuesday. “My father was born here in Nyack on Main Street. I’ve lived here all my life. So has my wife. She still does all the windows – she just did the Valentine’s Day window. She doesn’t want to let go, either.”
Koblin says a lifetime of working and living in his beloved village was a labor of love – and a legacy he hopes to leave behind.
“We were a one stop shopping place, from shoelaces to bread to medicine. I think I expanded on it. My father was a good guy, but he had ulcers all his life. I never had them. He was always nervous, but I can fight back pretty well,” Koblin laughs. “My grandfather came here in 1907 and opened a clothing store in 1911. Not too many people can say that. I’ve always tried to give back. If people needed a donation, we gave it. I always went out of my way, and I feel I did my best. It’s my town, and it always has been.”
Koblin said he’ll keep busy, but retirement is hard for the man whose family help build a cornerstone of the Village of Nyack.
“Some people work until they drop. I always thought I’d be one of those people,” Koblin mused. “Most people plan for retirement. I never did.”
Koblins Pharmacy: 845-358-0668, 96 Main St., Nyack. www.koblins.com Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.