Closing Of Two Northern Illinois Businesses Signals End Of An Era

Sep 12, 2012

This week, two northern Illinois businesses are closing their doors. Both of these family owned operations had served their communities for generations.

Nihan & Martin pharmacy got its start in Rockford in 1929 when Ray Nihan and Frank Niemeyer bought the Simon Drug Company. In 1935, Charles Martin purchased Niemeyer’s interest. In 1995, the business was sold.  Since 1997, it has been owned by Cincinnati-based Omnicare.

September 13th was the last day the pharmacy would be filling prescriptions, with doors closed the following day. Employees say they have been told to refer all questions about the closing to Omnicare. Efforts to get a response from the company have been unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, Illinois, a car dealership that has been operating for 94 years closes officially on September 15th. The Franklin Family/Bemis Ford dealership was founded in 1918 by Burt Bemis. A few years later, Bemis’ friend and partner Harry Franklin bought him out, and Franklins have run it ever since. Harry’s grandson, Jay, says a combination of the bad economy and personal health issues recently led him, reluctantly, to attempt to sell the business. Ford instead opted to close it down. Franklin says even before the recent crises, small businesses like his were in trouble.

“Small town America is going away. We stayed within our own community and contributed to our own community.  But it’s gotten to the point where there’s not enough people who think locally anymore” Franklin said.

Franklin says what’s getting lost is that personal touch that comes from doing business with a friend and neighbor.  Customers of Nihan & Martin would probably agree with that sentiment.