ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Bill Booras, owner of Osborne Pharmacy on Essex Street in Lynn, in his store that he has owned for 52 years.
BY THOR JOURGENSEN
LYNN — William P. “Bill” Booras has survived robberies and a car plowing into his front door, but the man who has run a business for 52 years at Essex Street and Eastern Avenue will fill his last prescription next Tuesday night.
Osborne’s is not closing and Booras, a Lynnfield resident, will stay on with the store to help out manager Kenneth Lufkin Jr. run Osborne as home health care provider, expanding on the medical assistance equipment and at-home health aids the store currently sells.
Booras said the opportunity to leave Osborne’s operation in Lynn resident Lufkin’s hands — with help from three fellow employees — gives him more time to spend with his wife, Jane, and their three children and nine grandchildren.
“I’ve been on the same corner for 52 years and made a difference in people’s lives,” he said.
Booras grew up on Eastern Avenue and graduated from English High School in 1959. His father, Paul B. Booras, was a Greek immigrant determined to help his son own a business. Bill Booras worked for Roger Osborne as a teenager before buying Osborne in 1965.
“Dad came down with a bag of money. The guy at the bank was very leery,” Booras said.
Booras was 22-years-old when he bought Osborne, and the store, like many of the dozens of drug stores dotting Lynn in the 1960s, featured a soda fountain with ice cream made on the premises.
“We wore white shirts, black bow ties and hats,” he recalled.
He said Brigham’s and Friendly’s chain sandwich and ice cream shops pulled away customers from drug store soda counters, with Osborne selling its last scoop in 1971. Booras decided to make additional changes to Osborne without waiting around for bigger businesses to dictate the way he ran his store.
He started selling more products and discounting prices — drawing criticism from fellow druggists for breaking away from industry tradition.
“I got some heat but they died off,” he said.
It was his wife’s idea to remodel Osborne to include space for a gift shop in 1980. Osborne offered gift items through 1987 and then branched out into selling durable medical equipment.
“The average pharmacy wasn’t touching those things but people’s needs changed,” he said.
Along the road toward building a long-term business, Booras mentored a succession of young pharmacists, including Ted Ball, who owned a Lewis Street pharmacy for 28 years.
“I learned from the master. He’s done a good job retaining good old-fashioned corner store,” Ball said.
Booras said 31-year employee Lufkin’s loyalty and support from other Osborne employees helped him stay in business.
“I like being nice to people. You’ve got to do something you like,” he said.
He said Osborne’s plan to expand home health care product sales will include a store remodeling.
Thor Jourgensen can be reached at [email protected]