Prairie Village’s Bruce Smith Drugs says goodbye after six decades

Bruce Smith Drugs posted a note on its doors to thank customers for their support.
Bruce Smith Drugs posted a note on its doors to thank customers for their support.

Bruce Smith Drugs, a mainstay in Prairie Village for more than 60 years, will not reopen.

Signs on the doors of the shop, at 71st Street and Mission Road, thanked customers, employees and the Prairie Village community for their “loyalty and concern for our business.”

“We are sorry that we have not been able to reopen our doors. … Unfortunately, we have been unsuccessful in our efforts to negotiate a lease beneficial to both our business and the landlord. Other unfavorable business conditions, events and obstacles have forced us to reach a final decision to end our efforts to pursue the reopening of the business.”

Bruce Smith Drugs was founded in 1955 and at one time had four locations — including the Country Club Plaza, Red Bridge Shopping Center and Shannon Valley in Overland Park — and more than 100 employees. William Richmond joined the company a couple of years after it was founded and purchased the business in 1976, according to Kansas City Star archives.

The Prairie Village store was the last location, and it sold gifts, greeting cards, magazines, toys, candy, cosmetics, watch batteries and seasonal items. It had about 20 employees.

It temporarily closed in November to restructure. The owners were in talks with investors and looking at downsizing the store.

“But with margins being so tight in the industry, it was hard to come up with terms where the business and the landlord would be successful throughout the lease,” said Debbie Richmond, pharmacy manager and daughter of the owner. “It’s horrible. But we tried everything we possibly could. Pharmacy right now is just a tough, tough field to make any profit. We were blessed to do what we did for as long as we did.”

In late December the owner of the Prairie Village Shopping Center, GRI Prairie Village LLC, filed a lawsuit seeking possession of the 15,128-square-foot space, past rent of $140,653, plus interest and legal fees. It won a default judgment on Friday, and a writ of eviction was issued on Tuesday.

Officials with GRI Prairie Village LLC declined to comment.

“We are all getting along and working together to get the space cleaned out,” Debbie Richmond said. “All of our employees were paid before the end of the year and that was always our intent.”

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC