• Last modified 1567 days ago (Dec. 10, 2014)


Buchholzes sell Health Mart Pharmacy

Staff writer

After 36 years, Marlin and Debbie Buchholz are selling their pharmacy to the next generation, longtime pharmacist Traci Lanning.

The change in ownership will become official Jan. 1, with remodeling inside the Health Mart Pharmacy beginning soon after the sale.

Lanning, who worked part-time at the pharmacy in high school and graduated from Marion High in 1993, said she is excited about the changes and hopes everyone remains supportive.

“We’re going to do a little remodeling; it’s kind of crowded right now,” Lanning said. “We’re going to get a new computer system, which will have our own mobile app, so people can re-order their prescriptions on their phones or iPads. We’ll also have automatic refills. That’s a nice thing for the elderly. If they want to be set up, we’ll bring their pills out each month.”

Lanning, who graduated from University of Kansas Pharmacy School in 1998, also hopes to expand delivery services, with weekly runs to the Florence and Lincolnville areas.

The Buchholzes arrived in Marion in 1978. Both worked for Walgreens in Chicago, and both of their parents relocated to Kansas. Debbie’s folks moved from Chicago to Manhattan, and Marlin’s parents moved from South Dakota to Ellsworth. During a week’s vacation visiting their parents in Kansas, Marlin phoned the pharmacy board in Topeka and inquired about pharmacist opportunities in the area. That’s when he heard about a job in Marion with a chance to buy into the business.

“I’ll never forget that we moved to Marion in August,” Debbie said. “I don’t know what we were thinking.”

“It was 104!” Marlin said. “That was a hot year.”

A few years later, the Buchholzes bought a third of the pharmacy, and in 1984 they bought the rest of it. In 1993, they bought the building next door and expanded.

When they first started, they were filling 20-30 prescriptions a day. But business received a big boost when physician T.C. Ensey stopped in one day and announced that he would no longer dispense his own medication to patients and instead send them to the Buchholz pharmacy.

“It was unbelievable how things started changing,” Marlin said.

Now they fill well over 100 prescriptions a day, and more than 300 on very busy days.

“Right here in this area, I’ve had it pretty nice,” Buchholz said.

The Buchholzes, who have three children, plan to retire in Marion. They recently sent letters to their customers informing them of the impending sale. Marlin plans to spend more time at his farm near the Chase County line. He will still work part-time in the pharmacy after the transition, but Debbie will no longer work in the store. She plans to do more quilting.

“It’s time, but there are mixed emotions,” Debbie said. “I’m glad we’re going to be around. We just feel like Traci is going to do a fantastic job. She’s got some visions for the store. And I think, at this point, we’re tired. We realize there’s stuff that needs to be done, but we just don’t have the energy. So it’s nice to have that young person come in.”

Lanning, who is married with three sons, said she is grateful for her relationship with the Buchholzes.

“They’ve been real good to me,” Lanning said, adding that customers have also been very nice wishing her luck.

Lanning spends much of her time these days applying for various licenses to make sure the sale goes through smoothly. She doesn’t plan to change any merchandise in the store to begin with. On Saturday, she spent 12 hours working on a compliance manual for Medicare.

“I’m excited for sure, but it’s a little overwhelming at this point,” Lanning said. “There’s just a lot to do in a little time, especially with Christmas coming. But we’re getting there.”

Last modified Dec. 10, 2014