The family-owned pharmacy, at 7824 Girard Ave., announced recently it would be shuttering for good May 31 due to owner Wayne Woods’ pending retirement and declining business following the 2008 recession.
April 15 was the last day of operation for the pharmacy, which will be transferring its business — and some of its employees — to CVS Pharmacy, at 7525 Eads Ave. The rest of the store will remain open to sell off inventory.
“It’s a huge loss for our community, another end of an era,” said Tim Lucas, president of La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) at the group’s April meeting.
Noting Burns has been far more than just another business, Lucas added, “It’s been a huge institution, a great place in our community that started in 1952 and was so important to a lot of us, not only for getting our prescriptions filled but for (medical) advice and other things.”
A colleague of Lucas' on LJSA, Janie Emerson, said it will be impossible to replace the homespun store’s “personal” touch, citing her own example.
“My husband had an emergency appendectomy last summer, and he got an abscess (the doctors didn’t pay any attention), and if it hadn’t have been for Wayne (Woods) and one of the other pharmacists working with me … I don’t think he would have made it. It’s a huge loss to the community. No other pharmacy would have done what we needed last summer. I feel like people are ripping pieces of La Jolla out of me by inches. It’s so sad.”
Claude-Anthony Marengo, president of La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA), the community's Business Improvement District (BID) concurred that news of Burns demise was "very sad for all of us."
Marengo recalled that Burns and nearby Rexall pharmacies were part of his and others' childhoods. "We'd get candy in one, and as soon as we got kicked out, we went to the other one. Then later, we would go down to Children's Pool (for a swim)," he said.
"For a long time Burns was a part of the fabric of La Jolla," Marengo said. "We're going to miss that."
Cindy Greatrex, immediate past president of La Jolla Town Council, agreed that Burns was like family and, once gone, can never be replaced.
"Burns Drugs was a true classic with every trace of local character,” she said, adding that the pharmacy was “personality-driven and always kind and caring to residents and visitors alike.”
She said she’ll always remember the pharmacy for how its presence “flavored” the town, recalling, “It was a welcome respite on a warm day of strolling the Village, especially for pet owners, who always received such a kind welcome and a little treat. We will miss our long-term staff friends at Burns and hope to see them again.”
Diver and longtime La Jollan Bill Robbins said Burns was especially good with seniors.
“When my mother retired, they gook great care of her prescriptions,” he said. “It even got to the point where Burns would know when she needed a refill (they kept such good records) and faithfully deliver them to her. There’s simply no way any other pharmacy would have taken care of it like that.”
Robbins also expressed concern for the future welfare of Burns’ staff of more than 30 workers, some of whom are seniors working part-time.