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One of Lincoln's oldest local pharmacy chains is closing.

Four Star Drug, which opened in 1961, announced Monday that its three locations will close later this month.

Customers can pick up prescriptions at the Four Star Drug stores at Piedmont Shopping Center and in Waverly until 7 p.m. on May 23. The Bethany location will stay open until 7 p.m. on May 24.

The two Lincoln stores will reopen May 26 at 9 a.m. for going-out-of-business sales.

Prescriptions from the Piedmont location will be transferred to the CVS pharmacy at 48th and O streets, while ones from the Bethany store will go to the CVS at 70th and O streets.

Four Star owner James Plucknett, whose father started the business 55 years ago, said factors that led to the decision to close included the changing health care market and store leases coming up for renewal.

When he graduated from college in 1980, he said, about 30 percent of prescription drugs were paid for by private insurers or government programs. Now that number is 97 percent.

That gives third parties all of the leverage in pricing, making things "very challenging" for independent pharmacies.

He said Four Star constantly had to upgrade its procedures and systems to keep up with changes, and that required a lot of money and a lot of work.

Plucknett, who is a certified public accountant and not a pharmacist, spent more than 40 years in the family business. He has no children to take it over and said he tried to find an organization that would buy it and keep running it as is, but he had no takers.

"So we found the next best thing," he said, which was selling to CVS.

The Bethany location handled prescriptions for more than a dozen assisted-living facilities, and Four Star sold that part of the business to RelyCare LTC Pharmacy at 1221 N. Cotner Blvd.

Plucknett said RelyCare has hired a majority of the pharmacy staff and some of the delivery people from the Bethany store.

Plucknett and his wife, Kris, plan to continue running Four Star Card and Gift Gallery at 5500 Old Cheney Road.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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