The victim of its own chequered history and the present's beleaguered economy, the Phar-Mor Corp. will have no future. What was once an important part of the Mahoning Valley will soon cease to exist, except for the parceling off of the once-flourishing company's remaining assets. But it won't just be Phar-Mor's buildings that are empty, the void will be felt throughout the region as employees lose their livelihoods and Mahoning County loses an important corporate presence.
In a way, Phar-Mor's existence has been like that of a star -- first white hot, later a paler glimmer of its former self, and finally, a burned out cinder. When the light first exploded on the scene, the entire region was illuminated. Now the corporate center may close and the stores will be shuttered. The shelves full of products that filled many a shopping bag and many a kitchen, bathroom or garage will be marked down for quick sale. Then even the barren shelves will be sold.
We would have preferred that Snyder's Drug Stores of Minnetonka, Minn., had been successful in buying Phar-Mar, particularly because the company had hoped to keep at least some of the stores open in the Mahoning and Shenago valleys. Snyder's promised to be a good corporate citizen too -- which the Valley clearly needs.
Instead, the Hilco Group -- which includes Giante Eagle, CVS and a liquidation company -- will take over the remaining assets. Not only will Giant Eagle and CVS be eliminating a competitor, but they'll also be gaining Phar-Mor's lucrative prescription drug files.
Perhaps in the current economy, Phar-Mor could not have been sustained regardless of who acquired the company. But that doesn't ease the pain for the workers or the community. The passing of Phar-Mor marks the end of an era.