Editor's note: This is the 123rd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
HUNTINGTON - They were places where the pharmacist knew almost every customer by name and you didn't have to wait in a long line to get your prescription filled.
But, like mom-and-pop grocery stores and neighborhood movie theaters, America's corner drugstores are mostly gone now, replaced by big fancy modern stores operated by chain drug companies.
One of those iconic corner drugstores was Niermann's Pharmacy at 350 Norway Ave. in the heart of Huntington's Beverly Hills neighborhood.
The Niermann's building, with its big Pepsi sign on the side, looked much like something out of the 1940s. And perhaps that was understandable in that 1940 was the year W.J. Niermann opened the store.
Marion J. Coleman bought the drugstore when Niermann's wife died in 1971. Coleman then operated the store for nearly a decade during which neighborhood residents could fill prescriptions, maybe enjoy a fountain Coke and pick up stamps or other odds and ends. But as the years went by, the store's sales steadily declined.
In 1980, Coleman reluctantly closed the store. Interviewed by a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch, he pointed to the lack of parking as one factor behind the diminished sales. Neighborhood stores, he noted, dated from an era when people walked to their shopping places. When Niermann's opened, he said, only a few neighborhood residents had cars. Forty years later, only a few didn't.
Coleman said he thought the neighborhood was genuinely saddened when the drugstore closed. "It was strictly an institution in the community. People were taken aback, really disappointed."
After the store closed, an eye doctor moved into the building. Dr. William Lewis had to close his nearby office when it was displaced by construction of the Gallaher Village branch library. The former drugstore building is still standing.