After 65 years in business, Danny Ray closed the doors on Ray’s Pharmacy in Mansfield for the last time Wednesday, a victim of drastic changes in the healthcare industry.
The two-story location at the junction of East Broad Street and Cannon Drive will be available for lease or for sale and all the customers and inventory will be sold to Market Street about 2 miles east, Ray said.
“The pharmacy business is just not what it used to be, especially retail pharmacy. It’s kind of time for me to do something different,” Ray said. “I’ve had the store 40 years and my dad 25 years before that.”
Business has been squeezed by insurance companies that charge higher copays to local businesses instead of chains. He also has to compete with insurance companies having their own mail-order delivery.
He’s also thinking about retirement and his children didn’t want to take up the family business.
“Our children aren’t pharmacists,” Ray said. “It’s just a really complicated business now. It’s not the same business it was when I was in pharmacy school. There comes a time when everybody needs to make a change.”
Some of Ray’s most loyal customers have been with him for life, going back to when his father Lee Roy Ray owned the original location on Main Street in downtown. Lee Roy Ray is 92 years old and still lives in Mansfield.
“With all the outpouring of support we’ve had from people it’s pretty obvious that this pharmacy has had a wonderful name in the community and we’re really proud of that,” Danny Ray said. “We’ve got a couple of them that have been doing business with us for 65 years.”
The pharmacy harkens back to a simpler time when people had a relationship with their pharmacist just like they do with their doctor — and their doctor knew the pharmacist, Ray said.
Fourth generation Mansfield resident Suzanne Ray worked for Lee Roy Ray when she was 16 years old and would go on to marry Danny Ray. After all these decades it’s hard to let go of the business that she said really held on to that small-town charm.
“It’s pretty much what our lives revolved around,” Suzanne Ray said. “We have a real connection to the city, the patients and our customers.”
She remembers the days when Danny Ray was on call 24 hours a day to refill hospice prescriptions at a moment’s notice.
Danny and Suzanne Ray took over the pharmacy on Main Street for 30 years before opening their dream location on East Broad Street just a few miles from Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. Ray wanted it to have a soda fountain so it would resemble an old-town pharmacy from the 1950s. They weren’t able to keep that going, Suzanne Ray said, so they rented it out as tenant space.
They’re hoping they can find someone who can come up with a new use for the building, Danny Ray said.
“The location is one of the best around,” Ray said. “So we still have a wonderful asset in this building.”
In 2016, Ray had a proposal to build a 578-unit storage center on land that he owns between Ray’s Pharmacy and Willie Brown Elementary School. Residents spoke out in opposition of the three-story storage center, saying it doesn’t belong next to an elementary school. The City Council voted 6-1 in July 2016 to deny the project with then Councilman Stephen Lindsey accusing Ray of “turning a deaf ear” to the vocal opposition.
Now, three years later, Ray said getting that storage center developed “would have made things easier to carry on like we were.”
The Rays sons still live in Mansfield and so do their grandchildren, who are sixth generation Mansfield residents.
Ray is also shutting down the Kennedale location, which will sell its customers and inventory to the Albertsons located at 301 Southwest Plaza in Arlington.
The 17 employees who work at the Mansfield and Kennedale locations have mostly found work at other pharmacies, including the Market Street and Albertsons that took them over, Ray said.
Ray will continue owning Hamilton City Drug in Hamilton, south of Stephenville. He already sold the north Arlington location to his general manager Jeff Alsabrook. It will be the only store that still carries the Ray’s Pharmacy name.
“It’s just been a good thing for me and my family,” Ray said. “We love the profession of pharmacy, it’s just not what it used to be.”