Family comes first in decision to close pharmacy

By Kevin Wilson

LaDawna Brooks loves being a pharmacist, and she loves helping people.
She loves her family more, though, and that was a central reason for the recent closing of her business, Marty’s Pharmacy of Portales.
Brooks and her employees started on Monday with the transfer of prescriptions to wherever their customers choose. The plan is to transfer accounts for the next two weeks, at which point they will have moved nearly 700 customers to other pharmacies.
“I have the most wonderful patients,” Brooks said, “and I think all of these pharmacies will be so fortunate to get them.”
Those accounts are moving for two primary reasons. Brooks, who had owned the business for seven years since buying it from Marty Martinez, has two daughters and didn’t want to be caught in a bind should there be some event involving them.
“My oldest daughter is going to start kindergarten and I’m not going to miss plays and special days with her,” Brooks said.
The New Mexico Board of Pharmacy requires that a registered pharmacist must be on duty at all times that a pharmacy is in operation. Brooks said she was unsuccessful through the years in recruiting a second pharmacist — they always told her the Clovis/Portales area was saturated with pharmacies.
“It’s amazing that you can keep this many pharmacies going,” Brooks said, noting that Clovis (six) now has only two more pharmacies than Portales (four).
The decision to close the pharmacy was made by Brooks when a potential sale of the business fell through. Instead, Brooks said she is negotiating to sell her remaining merchandise and the building, located on the 1400 block of N. Ave. O.
For the next two weeks, it is a transition period for the customers and for the employees. Brooks said the business sent out about 675 letters to customers within the last three months informing them of the closure.
Tawna Luscombe, a certified pharmacy technician at Marty’s, said that she’ll always remember having good relationships with the customers.
“The atmosphere here, it’s very hometown,” Luscombe said. “It’s not so big that you can’t remember who’s coming in. It’s very personal.”
All three employees have either secured employment or are looking at options.
The business will remain personal to Brooks, a Portales native who bought the business right after her 1998 graduation from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. She said she plans to do relief work for area pharmacies to satisfy hour requirements as a pharmacist, but will miss the little shop where she would often bring her children.
“My daughters grew up here,” Brooks said. “I was sometimes worried about what people would think if they saw (one) running around, only to find the roughest, gruffest man playing peek-a-boo with her.”