A Taylor Made Retirement

A Taylor Made Retirement

by Brian Simon

Walk past the Rx counter at the Rite-Aid on Grand Avenue and you might do a double take. That can’t be Taylor Boring filling out prescriptions, can it? Indeed, the owner of one of the last independent pharmacies in the South Bay is helping out at the local branch of the national drugstore chain.

Two Fridays ago at 5 p.m., Taylor’s Pharmacy shut its doors for good after 40 years in El Segundo. By 11:30 that night, the store was completely gutted and its contents transferred to Rite-Aid two blocks away.

Taylor sold his business to Rite-Aid, which hired nine of his employees. He will stay on through the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition and then proceed to the true business at hand -- retirement.

Local residents say they are saddened by the pharmacy’s closure, citing it as yet another example of a venerable mom and pop store leaving El Segundo. They maintain the business personified the hometown character of the community. Main Street institutions such as Rea’s Hardware and RB Drug went out because they could not compete with larger chain competitors.

This wasn’t the case with Taylor’s, however. Despite the nationwide demise of close to 40,000 independent pharmacies in recent years, Taylor’s continued to thrive. The secret?

"Although our mark-up was low, we were actually filling more total prescriptions than ever since insurance plans covered the costs," Taylor explained.

"I’m debt-free and own the building."

So why did he sell?

"I’m getting too old for this sort of thing," he admitted. Taylor grew up in Missouri and always knew what his calling was.

"I was raised in my father’s drugstore back in Missouri," he said. "I was destined to be a pharmacist and that I’ve ever done.

Taylor arrived in California in 1959 and settled in El Segundo in 1961. That eventful year, he married and opened Leonard’s Discount Pharmacy at 600 N. Sepulveda Blvd. After 13 years there, he moved the operation to Main Street and renamed the store.

Between the two businesses, Taylor has served El Segundo residents for 40 years. Old customers have now been directed to Rite-Aid where a banner outside welcomes Taylor’s clientele. Those folks will not only recognize Taylor, but several of his employees who are now Rite-Aid sales clerks, pharmacists and input technicians.

Taylor grants that the business climate has changed dramatically since he started out. managed care system has made it virtually impossible for new, independent pharmacists to afford the investment in a shop of their own. In the past, almost everyone paid in cash for prescriptions. Now, people come in with plastic cards and the costs are covered by third party health plans like Blue Cross.

Taylor said he is amazed by the medical advances of the last decade and the advent of so-called "miracle drugs" that have been the rage.

There are pills to treat everything from arrhythmia to schizophrenia to impotence. Viagra is quite popular, he noted.

Taylor, who lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife, says he has no immediate plans for retirement other than to renovate his old building in hopes of finding a new tenant. He indicated that he would be available to fill-in at Rite-Aid when needed.

"I thank all my customers for their loyalty and years of patronage. But it’s time to move on, he said."