Closing time on Monday, Dec. 4, was a surreal moment for pharmacist David Efros; one he’ll never forget. With tears in his eyes and one turn of a key, he closed the Efros Sav-On store at the Orchard Mall for the final time and, with it, closed a chapter on his family’s nearly 70-year legacy in the drugstore business.
David, 65, and his brother Howard Efros, 69, owned and operated the West Bloomfield location from 1974 until 1999, when it was sold along with the Efros name to Sav-on Drugs. The chain eventually grew to 20 stores until it was recently purchased by CVS as a result of the company’s bankruptcy.
“I walked out of the store in tears almost every day during the last week,” Howard said.
The brothers didn’t know the exact day their store would close or if the location would remain open as a CVS until they were informed by a memo from the Sav-On Corporation just a few days prior to the closing. David and Howard called as many of their customers as possible to inform them of the transition.
Efros is one of 10 Sav-Ons closing permanently, with the other locations converting to CVS. Patient records have been transferred to the new owners.
Having served multiple generations of customers for seven decades, the single most important thing to the Efros family was getting a word of thanks and gratitude out to the community. To that end, David told me he sent a note to the editorial department of the Jewish News on behalf of his brothers Howard and Barry, 61, the third and youngest pharmacist son of the late founder Jerry Efros. I suggested that the Efros legacy deserved a little more ink.
In the letter, David wrote: “Sadly, after almost 70 years, there will no longer be a drugstore with the Efros name on it in this community. Starting with the original Efros Drugs opened by our father in Oak Park in 1949, through our previous locations in Southfield, Livonia, Farmington Hills and our last store in West Bloomfield, we would like to express our thanks for your years of patronage, your confidence and mostly your friendship. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of your lives. It has truly been a pleasure.”
A Proud History
An Army veteran, Jerry Efros began building his brand just four years after serving in the South Pacific during WWII. With the tireless support of his eventual bride of 57 years, Ada, of blessed memory, Jerry gained a reputation for being one of the most dedicated professionals in the business. “My dad was the hardest worker I’ve ever met and that was generally accepted by the other pharmacists,” Howard said.
Adds David: “He taught us how to run a successful business with integrity and compassion and he did that purely by example.”
Over the course of his 53-year career, Jerry worked equally as hard on developing close relationships with his customers. “As a child, one of my lasting impressions growing up was dad seemed to know everybody,” Barry said. “No matter where we went with him, someone always came over and said, ‘Hi, Jerry,’ just like they were his best friend.”
You’d be hard pressed to find a better example of the legacy of integrity the Efros family created than in the aftermath of the tragic tornado that struck outside their West Bloomfield store on March 21, 1976. Despite Howard’s car being flipped over and driven through the wall of the store, the Efros brothers kept the pharmacy open with flashlights and typewriters for several days to accommodate their loyal customers.
“It’s the end of an era,” Howard Efros lamented. “And we were lucky enough to have worked in it.”
Howard and David told me that after some time off they “may” try to pick up a day or two of work at a local pharmacy. Brother Barry will continue working at the former Sav-On location at Maple Road and Telegraph. And by the way, if you need a great pharmacist in Topeka, Kansas, third-generation pharmacist and David’s daughter Carly will be happy to assist you.
While the Efros name will no longer be on a building, seeing it on a name tag will continue to be a trusted and welcome sight.