Neosho will soon say goodbye to one of the community’s long-standing businesses.

Neosho will soon say goodbye to one of the community’s long-standing businesses.

Jon’s Pharmacy, 219 South Washington St., is one of 144 drugstores being purchased by Walgreens and is among several closing its doors as part of that acquisition.

The pharmacy was opened in 1968 by Jon Genisio, who owned and operated the family business until his retirement in 2003.

Upon retirement, he sold the company to Gary and Jane Massey. The Masseys, who still work at the pharmacy, sold it to the regional chain USA Drug a few years after purchasing the store.

It was this past July that Walgreens announced the acquisition of several mid-South stores, including those owned by USA Drug. 

On Monday, Walgreens announced the closure of four local stores in Neosho, Joplin, Webb City and Carthage.

Genisio said he is saddened by the news of the closure.

“I’m sorry that it has to happen this way,” Genisio said. “Neosho still needs a pharmacy there in that area.”

For Genesio, Jon’s Pharmacy was more than a business, it was a dream come true.
Genisio long dreamt of a career as a pharmacist, and of owning his own drugstore. He credits a fond childhood memory as the source of his passion.

Genisio said as a child he would visit a small-town drugstore with his grandfather, where he ordered a “400” (chocolate milk) and read comic books.

“I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist from the time I was four or five years old,” Genisio said. “That was just a part of me.”

Starting out with only a 23-foot section and two employees, Genisio’s family business was successful, even up against corporate competition.

“I hadn’t been in business very long when Wal-Mart came to town,” Genisio recalled.
However, Genisio said he had built up a steady stream of customers in the early days, which allowed him to continue to grow after the corporate giant moved into Neosho.
Part of Genisio’s success, he says, is that the store always meant more than a bottom line to him.

“It wasn’t just a business,” Genisio said. “It was a place we could see our friends every day.”

Starting out, the pharmacy was surrounded by a Sears catalog store, an optometrist’s office, a dress shop and a dry cleaner. As those businesses began to close, Jon’s Pharmacy continued to grow.

“We just gradually expanded into their spaces,” Genisio said.

The Genisios also expanded their family business across the street, purchasing an area for parking and additional storage.

Genisio said he was especially thankful for the extra parking spaces, as he had learned in a business class the value of adequate parking. 

Square-footage wasn’t all the company had gained over the years, though, having added several loyal customers and an additional 14 employees by the time Genisio sold the business in 2003.

“It was a mom and pop drugstore,” Genisio said. “I was always happy we had a store like that.”

Once the store shuts its doors, Family Pharmacy, owned by Tim Mitchell, will be the last remaining independent pharmacy in Neosho.

Genisio said many people don’t realize the value of a locally owned drugstore.

“They’re losing a lot when they lose an independent pharmacy,” Genisio said. “It’s not just walk in, buy a prescription and walk out. You get to know that person and he cares for you. Fortunately, we have one independent pharmacy still available to us.”

It was not apparent Thursday how many employees currently work at Jon’s Pharmacy or what would happen to their jobs when the store closes.

Calls made to Jon’s Pharmacy were directed to USA Drug, who referred calls to Jim Graham, senior manager for Walgreens media relations based in Deerfield, Ill.
Calls to Graham were not returned.

Vista Pharmacy, 601 Missouri Ave.  Carthage, Mays Drug Warehouse, 1410 E. 7th St. Joplin, and Mays Drug Warehouse, 636 S. Madison Ave. in Webb City, will also close their doors as part of the purchase.

According to reports, the stores are closing partly due to their proximity to existing Walgreens and other USA Drug stores.

The stores are expected to close by November.