WILKES-BARRE — A new location with more space and a dog named Sugar seemed to be just the prescription for a neighborhood that always welcomed Harrold’s Pharmacy but worried that a shuttered bakery would become an eyesore.
Bruce Lefkowitz, the 49-year-old third-generation of Harrold’s — an iconic business in South Wilkes-Barre for 65 years — opened its new automatic doors Monday at the former Old River Road Bakery, and the faithful patrons raved about the facility.
Included in the early arrivals was a pre-school class of 3- and 4-year-olds from the Head Start school, located just down Beekman Street from Harrold’s. The kids carried a sign that read “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” and therapy dog Sugar was at the ready to allow excessive petting and ear-to-ear smiles.
A state-of the art pharmacy that offers everything from prescriptions to delivery service to remedies for pets, Harrold’s success can be traced to its welcoming atmosphere of a decades-old neighborhood pharmacy.
“Harrold’s is the best,” said Dorene Durland, 45, of Hanover Township. “Everyone is so nice and when I can’t get a ride here, they deliver always on time.”
Before Lefkowitz purchased the building, for years controversy surrounded the property at Old River Road and Beekman Street. Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton initially intended to sell the building, which had been vacant for 13 years, for $38,000 to Leo A. Glodzik, owner of LAG Towing.
Glodzik held the city’s towing contract until earlier this year. The deal to sell the former bakery to Glodzik was terminated after citizen complaints and a lawsuit.
After a state police and FBI investigation, Glodzik, 42, of Duryea, is facing two counts of theft alleging he took $2,100 in “bait” money. District Judge Paul Roberts recently sent the charges to county court after a preliminary hearing.
Glodzik now faces a formal arraignment in Luzerne County Court on Nov. 1.
When Lefkowitz was considering looking for a new location to get out of the cramped nearby space at 179 Old River Road, he had considered leaving Wilkes-Barre.
Customers such as 69-year-old Harry Messersmith, who has been coming to Harrold’s for 45 years, are glad Lefkowitz decide to stay in the neighborhood.
“Harrold’s Pharmacy is Old River Road,” Messersmith said. “I knew Bruce’s grandfather and father. This place has always been friendly. Heck, where can you walk into a business and they know you by name?”
If you have ever wondered why Harrold’s is spelled with two “R’s,” Lefkowitz said his grandfather — Harold — added the extra “R” and registered it as a trademark so it couldn’t be copied.
“It’s one of the things that makes us unique, I guess,” Lefkowitz said. “We think our level of service is unmatched.”
There are 45 employees at Harrold’s, like Brianne Mosca, 33, the front end co-manager.
Mosca said everyone entering the new store was impressed and had favorable comments.
“We have so much more space here,” she said. “And many more products.”
A plant arrangement arrived from long-time customers Lynn and Leonard Gonchar with a card of well wishes attached.
“Leonard was my father’s best friend,” Lefkowitz said.
A grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in early November, Lefkowitz said. The former location is for sale or lease, but the Harrold’s tradition continues with many improvements.
Diane Vishnefski and Carolyn Reino work in the finance office that was formerly housed in the window-less basement at the old location.
“We were extremely cramped and it was always dark and damp,” Vishnefski said.
Charles Perry, 57, of Wilkes-Barre’s North End, is a 20-year customer of Harrold’s.
“They’ve always treated me very kindly,” he said. “I started with Harrold’s and I’ll always stay with Harrold’s.”