Sunday, June 10, 2001
Pharmacy says farewell to Fourth Street
Tischbein bows to trend: shopping in the suburbs
By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer
David Klingshirn remembers the glory days of Cincinnati's Fourth Street, when well-to-do shoppers from Hyde Park and Indian Hill would stroll through stores like Gidding-Jenny, McAlpin's and Herschede Jewelers. Those were also the glory days of Tischbein Pharmacy. Now located in Dixie Terminal, it has dispensed medicines and friendly service to those same customers since 1922.
But those glory days are long gone, and so are most of the fashionable Fourth Street stores. And soon, Tischbein Pharmacy will be gone too, with its accounts and business consolidated to the Hyde Park store.
David Klingshirn will miss Fourth Street.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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We are a dinosaur, but the store in Hyde Park is able to do that, said Mr. Klingshirn, who sold his interest in the stores several years ago but still works behind the counter.
When people change their shopping habits, it's hard to get them back, he added.
At one time several hundred doctors had offices downtown, creating business for Tischbein. Now there are fewer than a dozen doctors downtown, Mr. Klingshirn said.
The closing of Tischbein Pharmacy sometime in June is not a surprise, because business has been dwindling for years. But it is a symbol of the change in downtown.
No longer a shopping destination that can compete with Kenwood Towne Centre and Rookwood Pavilion, downtown now must be content as the city's center for professional sports, museums and trendy restaurants.
It's one of the truisms of retailing, said David Ginsburg, an executive vice president at Downtown Cincinnati Inc. The markets change, and retail changes.
Mr. Ginsburg said new tenants on Fourth Street a Silverglade grocery store and a new restaurant by Maisonette chef Jean-Robert de Cavel signal the beginnings of a renaissance on Fourth Street.
It's a very, very important location, he said. The street has certainly gone through some tough times over the last few years, but there is some new energy there.
Like urban areas all over the country, the change has been slow and sometimes painful. But Mr. Klingshirn is not bitter. He recognizes that the demographic changes in the area are inevitable.
For example, business at Tischbein's Hyde Park store has increased tenfold in the last decade, as the downtown store's accounts have declined.
I drive by Rookwood and Hyde Park Plaza, and I don't blame people for going there, he said. They're nice stores. ... Yes, I'm nostalgic, but you move on.
The store will take with it original wood shelves and its Kent of London collection of combs and hairbrushes, which Mr. Klingshirn describes as the city's largest.
Because most of its 125 prescription accounts are either delivered or mailed, it will keep servicing those accounts.
The store opened in the Sinton Hotel at Fourth and Vine streets. It then moved to the Carew Tower arcade for 55 years, and was forced to relocate to the Dixie Terminal in 1990 when Tower Place Mall was built.
In the early days when customers rode buggies into town, Tischbein was known as the Carriage Trade Pharmacy. And well into the 1980s, it was still part of a collection of family-owned stores on Fourth Street.
We no longer have family names on stores, he said. When you have the family name on the store, and it's not a cookie-cutter, you tend to make more of it.
Mr. Klingshirn spoke from behind a desk with half a dozen medicine bottles. A customer walked in, and he greeted her by name and handed her one of the bottles.
We'll put that on the account, right? he said with a smile.
That personal service once was one of the hallmarks of downtown retailing.
Mr. Klingshirn has his own fantasy of how to revive downtown, which includes:
Harrods Department Store: After enlisting executives at Delta Air Lines to help, Mr. Klingshirn said he would travel to London and try to recruit the internationally known retailer.
That would draw people from Chicago and New York City, he said. You can have high tea on Fourth Street, you could have Beefeaters, you could make it fun.
Keep McAlpin's open: The store's closing in early 1996 really sealed the death of downtown, Mr. Klingshirn said. He would have offered whatever tax incentives were necessary to keep it running until a new department store was built, he said.
Northern Kentucky Day: In Mr. Klingshirn's dream, every Thursday would have been devoted to people living south of the Ohio River, including performances by the Northern Kentucky Symphony on Fountain Square.
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