85-year-old Conney’s Pharmacy wraps things up
Future of Winnetka’s 736 Elm St. not immediately clear
Conney’s Pharmacy is no more.
The legacy Winnetka business, which opened in 1937, distributed its final prescriptions in October, according to store employees, including partner Arshad Gazi.
Gazi said the Walgreens in Hubbard Woods — just up the road at 925 Green Bay Road — has assumed Conney’s pharmacy business, while its storefront will be open under limited hours during a liquidation process in November.
Gazi partnered with Conney’s owner and pharmacist Mark Jacobs when Jacobs took over the longstanding business at 736 Elm St. in 2007, and said “it was time” to move on. Jacobs did not return a request for comment.
According to multiple Conney’s customers, including Winnetka resident Bruce Blair, the change happened quickly and with little notice to patrons. A placard near the pharmacy counter in October announced the pending close.
Blair found out via a sign on Conney’s front window Wednesday, Nov. 2., and his Tuesday call to the pharmacy, in the hopes of refilling a prescription, was picked up by Walgreens.
“A lot of long- and short-time Winnetka residents will be saddened not only for the obvious loss of geographic convenience but for how well the Conney’s staff took care of their needs in-store, on the phone and with same-day delivery,” Blair said in an email to The Record. “It is difficult to imagine how a large corporate entity will be able to duplicate that.”
Conney’s building at 736 Elm St. sits on a polarizing corner in downtown Winnetka. In recent years, developers have submitted plans to overhaul the site with a multi-use development commonly referred to as One Winnetka.
The newest public plans for One Winnetka do not include the Conney’s building; however, previous plans have included the building and Conney’s move to another location.
One Winnetka developer David Trandel said in an email to The Record that his team has not purchased 736 Elm St, and Liz DeChant, the Village of Winnetka’s economic development coordinator, said the village has not seen any new One Winnetka plans that include 736 Elm St.
“Conney’s Pharmacy’s closure is the end of an era,” DeChant wrote to The Record. “It has been a part of our community for 85 years and has served multiple generations of Winnetkans, who have valued their delivery service and high level of customer service. We know Conney’s will be missed by many of our residents.”
Leo and Celia Conney opened Conney’s Pharmacy in Winnetka 85 years ago. Originally, the business was in a nearby storefront that was destroyed by a fire in 1940, according to a historical profile of the business by the Winnetka Historical Society.
Conney’s opened at 736 Elm in 1959, and the Conneys ran it until they retired in 1973. The name remained and got passed down with subsequent owners until the store’s closing on Nov. 1.
“It’s such a loss because they know everybody’s name,” said Mary Trieschmann, executive director of the Winnetka Historical Society. “Small local businesses like Conney’s really make the community unique, and the loss of them being taken over by a larger chain is unfortunate. They will be sorely missed.”
Conney’s becomes the latest North Shore legacy business to close in recent years, following in the footsteps of Edward’s Florist, a Winnetka shop that closed this fall after 174 years, and Schultz and Odhner’s, a Wilmette dry-cleaners that closed in the fall of 2020 after 120 years.
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319