The closing of Henderson’s Drug Store in 2013 was heartbreaking to many who had relied on the neighborly service of one of Penn Yan’s anchor businesses for generations. But old fashioned, small town, personal service is returning to Penn Yan’s Main Street. Village Drug has moved from its location on Elm Street on the southern edge of Penn Yan, and has opened the same doors Henderson’s closed in the historic Hamlin Building.

Tracey Knapp, owner of Water Street Pharmacy in Dundee, opened Village Drug on Elm Street near the village baseball fields in 2014. Knapp has been the pharmacist at Water Street for over 15 years and has owned it for 13. Working with her are Supervising Pharmacist Amy Gulick and Pharmacist Robert Kraft. Steve Schmaltz of Ontario Hearing will continue to offer all the same services through Village Drug. Village Drug accepts all major insurance providers and Medicare supplement plans. In conjunction with the Dundee store, they offer free area delivery.

With much more room than at the Elm Street store, Knapp plans to expand her stock of health related items, including vitamins and essential oils, and add a section for yoga accessories. There is also a spacious and comfortable waiting area for customers. Restoration lighting fixtures and the discovery of a vintage interior sign contribute to the hometown drug store atmosphere. A Yates County native, Knapp says she opened the Penn Yan store to “Give the people of Penn Yan the chance to deal with a local business again.” Now with the increased foot traffic of Main Street, even more customers will have that chance.

The Hamlin Building is also getting a new chance. Owner Dennis Hart purchased the building from Larry Jepsen in March 2016. “I love that building,” says Hart, “and I wanted to bring it back to the way it was. She’s a grand old lady and deserved better than she got.” Hart says historical records indicate it was built in 1834 to house The Metropolitan Dry Goods Store. The facade was redesigned in 1889 in the Richardsonian Romanesque style using red sandstone and brick. The Metropolitan closed in 1937, and Loblaws grocery moved in until relocating to Liberty Street in the 1960s. Henderson’s Drugs then moved in from a smaller store farther down Main Street.

Hart has, and is continuing to make a significant investment to restore the building’s original appearance while adapting it to modern uses. The removal of the 1960s-era false front revealed full-height window openings and cast iron details, now highlighted with a new paint scheme. New energy efficient windows fill the red sandstone facade, and a 19th century advertisement on an exterior wall has been refreshed by local muralist Robert Gillespie.

Hart says the facade will be gently hand washed in the coming year to remove over a century of soot and grime. He has plans to renovate the second and third floors for apartments, but the cost of sprinkler systems may delay that phase of the renovation.

The rebirth of demand for downtown village living, with conveniences within walking distance is bringing new residents to picturesque communities like Penn Yan — and with them come new investment and commerce. Restaurants, cafés, pubs, and retail shops appeal to the new residents, who improve year-round trade for small business people like Knapp.

Village Drug hours:

Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., closed Sunday.