Mallatt’s was the only place she could get medication, wine, and mail a letter, said Sarah Pfau, as she neared the checkout counter Friday with what was likely a last basket of supplies.
The pharmacy and costume store was a vital part of the Monroe Street neighborhood and will be missed by many when it closes for good, probably by the end of the week.
Until then, everything is 50 percent off.
The store at 3506 Monroe St., has been offering the half-price sale for two weeks, and makeup, wigs, candles, shampoo and cards have been going fast.
“We have more business than we know what to do with,” owner Mike Flint said.
All the wine went in two days, said Krystal Friou, who has worked at the store for 10 years. She said she’ll miss the friendly customers more than anything.
Pfau, who lives a few minutes away, has been a customer for 16 years. Her children bought their Halloween costumes there each year and used to visit the store for penny candies. Pfau filled prescriptions there as well, until Mallatt’s closed the retail pharmacy part of its business last October.
“Probably the most important thing is that I liked that it was an independent store with an owner,” she said. “It’s kind of an end to an era.”
Flint, 59, closed the Williamson Street Mallatt’s location two weeks ago and didn’t do a half-price sale there because he didn’t have enough employees to run both locations. “We needed the manpower that was working there over on Monroe Street,” he said.
He consolidated all the merchandise to Monroe Street, and put many items online, where it will soon be sold exclusively.
“That’s where the world’s going, right?” Flint said. “Let’s face it, people are not buying (from) brick and mortar anymore. And Mallatt’s is no different than anybody else.”
The Mallatt’s stores in Lodi and Waunakee, which also no longer fill prescriptions, will close, too. Those leases run through October.
Flint took over Schafer Pharmacy on Williamson Street in 2010. He doesn’t own that building, but said a hair salon should open there soon. He does own the Monroe Street building and is close to a sale.
The biggest impact on customers was last year when he discontinued the pharmacies after they stopped being profitable.
“The insurance companies totally beat us up on reimbursement and we said, ‘We can’t keep doing this,’ ” Flint said.
He kept the retail stores operating, knowing they couldn’t last without pharmacies unless the neighborhood really began buying everything there. “And they didn’t and I get it,” Flint said.
Adolph Mallatt founded Mallatt’s in 1926 on State Street and moved to Monroe Street in 1941. Flint started working there as a clerk in 1979 right out of pharmacy school at UW-Madison, and bought the business from Bill Mallatt in 1992.
Flint will now focus on his two long-term care pharmacies, Mallatt’s Homecare Pharmacy, which offer pharmacy services to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and agencies that deal with people with disabilities.
“Retail stores don’t do that,” Flint said. “And that is the growing piece of the business. We’ve got to concentrate on that fully, 100 percent to meet the needs of that population because it’s great.”
He started the Madison home care pharmacy in 2003, then opened up one in the Milwaukee area two years ago.
“We have tripled the business there since we first started. That’s where we need to be. So Mallatt’s isn’t going away,” Flint said.
Still, closing the retail businesses has been tough.
“People have asked me how difficult the decision was, and I say, financially it’s pretty easy,” Flint said. “Emotionally, of course, it’s pretty hard.”