Milton 'Mickey' Mindell, former Carpenter Road pharmacy business owner, dies at 84
Photo courtesy of the Mindell family
“He loved people and it wasn’t a job to him,” he said. “It was his life and he loved helping people. When people couldn’t afford things, he just gave it to them. He had a personal relationship with everyone that came in.”
Mickey Mindell, a resident of West Bloomfield, died Jan. 1 at the age of 84 from lymphoma.
“Everyone in the family was by his side when he passed away in the nursing home,” Mindell said.
Mickey was born in Detroit on July 28, 1927 and after graduating high school, he decided he wanted to be in the Navy.
“He lied to the Navy and said he was 18,” Mindell said. “He wanted to go to war but he was only 17 when he joined the Navy. By the time he got to Japan on the destroyer, the day he arrived in Japan the war was over. He had a couple easy years in the Navy and came back to Detroit and went to pharmacy school at Wayne State and he became a pharmacist and opened some drug stores in the Detroit area.”
Mickey opened up Mindell’s Pharmacy in 1968 and it was located at 3140 on Carpenter Road near Packard where stores such as Home Goods and T.J Maxx are now housed.
Mindell said the business closed in the 1990s after 28 years.
“The landlord at that property decided that 28 years into the 30 year lease that he would rather have Arbor Drugs as a tenant and without asking us, he gave our lease to Arbor Drugs and didn’t give us an opportunity to renew,” Mindell said.
“Arbor Drugs wanted to buy our store and we wouldn’t sell it to them and they went to landlord and said ‘I want that store’ and I got that call from our landlord two years before the lease was up and he said ‘that’s it.’ We would still be there today had he given us the opportunity to renew our lease."
A few years later, CVS Corp. acquired Troy-based Arbor Drugs Inc. for $1.48 billion in stock, according to the New York Times.
Since Mindell's death, community members have recall memories in an online memorial guestbook — and each one recalls his kindness and sincerity.
“We had a pretty good following of customers," said Michael, who joined the company as a pharmacist in 1975 and worked there until it closed in 1996. "People loved my dad and he was very interested in every customer. We knew all of our customers by their first names. We had a good business there.”
Bruce Kutinsky, who is also now a pharmacist, said much of what he knows came from working under Mickey. Kutinsky began working at the pharmacy with his uncle Mickey at the age of 12.
“Mickey was my inspiration to become a pharmacist,” Kutinsky said.
“He was my role model and why I live in Ann Arbor. It’s pretty uncommon at 12 or 13 to know what you want to be. I worked initially as a stock boy and when I attended the University of Michigan, I worked as a pharmacy tech. When I got into pharmacy school I worked as a pharmacy intern and when I graduated we opened another business. That company was also based in Ann Arbor and sold to Walgreens.”
Kutinsky remembers the store as one of the first full-service pharmacies in the area. “I think it was a destination store,” he said. “Back then in the pharmacy you could buy groceries, your prescription, everything. I would say ‘where else can you get canned shrimp and a prescription?’ It was a large drug store. In my mind he was ahead of the game. That was his forte.”
Kutinsky said Mickey was known not only for being a “master of merchandising” but for his impeccable customer service.
“Everyone felt at home and welcome,” he said. “If you weren’t feeling well and needed a delivery, we delivered. There was a senior citizen home next door and we delivered over to them on a daily basis. People just felt warm and welcomed by him. People came to the store for that reason. His reach was wide. I will remember his legacy of a successful store and him being a brilliant operator. He was just the nicest person that you would want to meet. Everyone would probably universally same the thing. ”
Mindell said he learned invaluable lessons from his father.
“He was a very open book,” he said. “He taught me that people would come to our store not because of price but because of us. We were not selling products, we were selling ourselves. People came from great distances. They came from all over just for a chance to see my dad.”
Many have asked how they should go about showing their appreciation and gratitude to Mickey and Mindell said his father would have only wanted one thing.
“I said at the funeral that everyone can honor my dad just by being kind to other people,” he said. “My dad wouldn’t want anything else in the world but people to be nice and go out and do something to be kind. He live his life by being kind.”
Mickey is survived by his wife Rita; his three sons, Michael, Allan, and Seth; seven grandchildren; his brother Bernard; brother-in-law Edward Pollak; and many other family members.
Katrease Stafford is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.
Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.
I just belatedly got the news about Mickey's passing, and had to say a few things. I worked for him some 40 years ago in Ann Arbor while attending EMU and, looking back, it's something I'd have done for free. Mickey, his staff and his customers were a family, and a LOVING family at that. I couldn't wait to get there in the morning, and never wanted to leave. My professional life since then has mostly been in customer service, and I'm considered to be as good as it gets at people contact. If that's true, it was born at Mindell Pharmacy. Thank you, Mickey. LOVE YOU, MICKEY. See you again some day.
Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 4:56 a.m.
This was sad to hear but what long lasting memories of having my first job. He gave me a chance by moving from their small store on carpender to the larger store, it seamed so huge at the time. So much was learned there. He was so nice to several of our family that had worked there. He was a GREAT example of how you should treat others, no matter who or how they look. I still try everyday to be that way. Thanks Micky and Mike! Your family will be in my prayers. Brian England.
Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.
Mickey was the best boss I have ever had. I worked for him at Mindell's as a Pharmacy Tech with his son Michael and Bruce. It is some of my best working memories. That is where I learned how to treat the customer and have fun! I am sad to hear of him passing away but he left a great legacy. He taught many a stock keeper what was expected out of them as an employee, as many of them started there without having a previous job. He always told great stories and the customers LOVED him. I always felt like he was a father figure to me since my father had already passed away. I will never forget the time I spilled bleach all over my apt. carpeting and came to work in tears only to have him say " here Honey let me show you how to fix it. Come over and get a couple of these rit dyes and mix the colors together to match the carpet and some plastic gloves and color the carpet!" Well I did and I never had to pay for any damages it worked out great! He was a very wise man in many ways and will be greatly missed for sure. God bless the family at this time. Alice (Zimmerman) Craddick
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.
Thanks for the walk through memory lane. A great man, and I'm sure he didn't realize how many lives he affected in such a positive way. My prayers go out to his family.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.
Mr. Mindell use to own a Pharmacy on the 1960's on Packard near Platt Road called Mindell's Pharmacy. Right next to Kelsay's Meat Market. Right next to the Honda shop on Platt Road across from Busters food Mark. This was way before he moved to Carpenter Road.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.
Thanks for the history lesson.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.
I remember this store fondly, A trip over there involved a walk though of Best products, and the over to Mindell's. He was quite the merchandiser, they had some great stuff in stock for kids.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.
I'm so sorry to hear this. I've mourned the loss of Mindell's so many times, and now the loss of Mickey. He was a wonderful guy and so comforting when there were health problems in the family. R.I.P. Mickey, and my sympathies to the family.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.
It was the best store, he had everything you can imagine and served it with a smile. Years later I've ran into him and he remembered me. To honor him do something kind to some one else.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.
I'll always remember my treks up to Mindell's as a child in search of candy or baseball cards. The place was an institution in the East Ann Arbor area. Mr. Mindell and his son Mike were always smiling and friendly and always tried to develop friendships with their customers. The ran their business the old fashioned way. Their personal style of interacting with customers was old school. We could use more businesses that care about their customers like Mindell's did. RIP Mr. Mindell. My memories of your store will always be with me.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.
Some of my earliest childhood memories were trips to Mindell's. It was a different way of life back then. A time when you could have a thriving successful local business. A time when it was possible to even be employed at a local business and actually earn a decent living and be treated respectfully as part of the family. Wow, have times changed! RIP Mr. Mindell
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.
Agreed, I can always remember asking my dad to take me up there for baseball cards! A place I will never forget.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.
This was our favorite place to go to get candy when we were little too! We'd either walk or ride our bikes up there. Such great memories... RIP Mr. Mindell!
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.
What a great store -- it had everything. It was the Schlenker's of pharmacies.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.
I liked going to Mindell's. Micky was very kind to me. I got the kind of customer service that is unknown to customers today. He gave me a cup of water one time when I was coughing a lot (asthma) and I appreciated that kind act. Now you go to a pharmacy you only see the clerk who checks you out behind the cash register. This was not true for Micky. Prayers to his family!
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.
God bless and rip.
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.
Mindell's was a great pharmacy. Customer service was a priority. It had a cozy, home-town atmosphere. No one was pleased when they closed. Thank you, Mickey, and the Mindell family for the services you provided us for so many years!
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.
Sending prayers during this difficult time...