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Traditional pharmacy to replace Peterson's in downtown Newfane

One chapter is ending and another is beginning in the heart of the business district.

As customers flock to Peterson's Love of Pete Gift Shop at 2740 Main St. to gather up gifts at cut-rate, store-closing prices, finishing touches are being put on the Newfane Pharmacy at 2780 Main St., owned by Grand Island resident Cyrus Ardalan.

Ardalan owns and operates four other pharmacies -- all in South Buffalo -- and said this will be a "traditional pharmacy, where we will do compounding of medicines and sell durable medical equipment. We'll also deliver."

Ardalan said he had been interested in opening a pharmacy in Newfane but did not want to compete with Peterson's.

"We don't like to step on anybody's toes," he said.

Peterson's closed its pharmacy last May but continued to operate its gift shop. Glenn C. Peterson is the third generation to operate Peterson's, established as a pharmacy by his grandfather, Glenn H. Peterson, and his grandfather's brother-in-law, Morris Bucher, in the mid-1930s in a Main Street location just a few doors down from its present site.

Glenn H. Peterson's two sons, Eugene and Douglas Peterson, both pharmacists, continued to operate the business and opened its current location around 1960, according to Glenn C. Peterson, Eugene's son.

In the 1980s, the Peterson family owned and operated 24 stores in the state. But Peterson said the family had partners in all the stores, even though the stores carried the Peterson name.

"That's the way my grandfather grew his business; he gave people who worked with him a chance to become part-owners of the business," Peterson said.

In the early 1970s, the Petersons devoted a portion of their stores to high-end gift shops to counter dipping profit margins on prescription drugs, Peterson recalled.

By 1994, Peterson Drug Co. had sold the majority of its stores to Fay's Drugs, which became Eckert's Drugs, which is now Rite-Aid, Peterson said.

The drugstore portion of the Newfane store was sold last year due to changes in the insurance business, Peterson explained. "We lost a large share of our business when the auto industry restructured [which provided many customers] and required their workers to go to mail-order companies for what we call the 'maintenance' prescriptions or ones you take monthly, like medicine to control cholesterol. This especially damaged local, independent pharmacies, and we had no recourse.

"We took a chance when we sold the pharmacy and continued the gift shop, but we haven't had the local support," he said. "Most of our customers are traveling from Lockport, Amherst and Lewiston, and it's not enough to support a small business. Our quiet local economy certainly has had an effect on this."

Janet Steggles, president of the Newfane Business and Professional Association, said: "We're going to miss them. They have been such a central part of Main Street, and they have been such a big draw, especially from other places, like Buffalo, Lockport and Tonawanda. Kay [Peterson, Glenn's wife] has such nice taste in gifts, and it's been nice to be able to stop in and buy a birthday present without having to drive to Buffalo or Lockport. We still have Shoppe on Main for gifts, but Peterson's has been here such a long, long time."

"It's been a nice business all of these years," agreed Newfane Supervisor Timothy Horanburg, who can see Peterson's from Town Hall, located directly across the street.

Ardalan said he will employ a pharmacist, a technician and a delivery person, "and add as we grow." His wife, Tracy, is a pharmacist and works with him at his stores, he added.

Ardalan became acquainted with the area through his second love, farming. He plants 500 acres of corn in Ransomville, which he sells for ethynol, he said. His farm manager, David Schmidt, lives in Newfane.