Elephant Pharm closes without notice

February 3, 2009 7:52:37 PM PST
If the sign on the door of Elephant Pharm that read "closed indefinitely" did not say it, the empty cash registers inside summed it up pretty well.

"It' seems to have a lot of good business and a lot of my friends go here so it's surprising," Kristen Cortez said.

It is yet another sign of the economic times; in a statement, CEO Kathi Lentzch said, "due to the current economic conditions and the tightening of the credit market, it has not been possible to raise the capital required to continue the business."

The six-year-old Berkeley-based pharmacy was about much more than filling prescriptions. Its three stores in Berkeley, San Rafael and Walnut Creek offered everything from herbal remedies to yoga and Tai chi classes.

But for others, it was about something bigger.

"For me it represented a move into a new, holistic, more conscious world," Denise Schwab said.

Tuesday, shoppers were shocked to find that the Elephant Pharm doors were closed, but it turns out that the writing has been on the wall for months now. The pharmacy was forced to close its Los Altos store in September and shoppers and workers in Berkeley told ABC7 the store shelves had become increasingly bare in recent weeks.

"They'd been telling us for about a week we should start looking for another job," employee Gabe Dour said.

Elephant Pharm employed 190 people in all, including many pharmacy students.

"There's a lot of Berkeley students who want to attend pharmacy school and this is one of the places that we go to for our pharmacy experience," employee Bejaine Bayot said.

Elephant Pharm plans to file for bankruptcy and its workers now plan to look for other jobs.