Leslie’s Drug Store, a family-run pharmacy and Main street institution in Vineyard Haven since 1948, will permanently close at the end of this year, after 72 years in business, the owners announced on Thursday.

“At the close of the business day on Dec. 31, 2020, Leslie’s Pharmacy will be closing its doors for good,” co-owner Warren Holmberg wrote in a statement on the store’s Facebook page on Thursday.

In a phone call with the Gazette Friday, Mr. Holmberg said he made the decision to close just a few days ago, due to rising expenses that have made the business unsustainable. The iconic Main street storefront, which is still owned by previous pharmacy owner Leslie Leland, will not be sold, he said.

Owners Donna and Warren Holmberg took over the business in 2003. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The Vineyard Haven pharmacy has been owned and operated by Mr. Holmberg and his wife, Donna, since October 2003, but the business dates to the mid-20th century, when Frank Leslie first opened the storefront. The local pharmacy quickly became a key community gathering space — complete with a soda fountain — where Islanders came to pick up their prescriptions and touch base with their neighbors.

In 1969, Mr. Leslie’s grandson, Mr. Leland, took over operations at the pharmacy, becoming the youngest business owner on Main street at 29. The store remained in the family for another 40 years, until 2003, when Mr. Leland retired and handed the reins to his longtime employee, Mr. Holmberg.

Since then, Mr. Holmberg and his family have provided care for the customers who come through the door every day, keeping the spirit — and the name — of the original pharmacy alive.

“Our interaction with the customers, is what I will miss more than anything,” Mr. Holmberg said Friday.

The recent decision to close has been a long time in the making for Mr. Holberg, who said he has been trying to sell the business for about a year. With high expenses and less reimbursement from insurance companies each year, keeping the business afloat has been a challenge for a while.

Since the pandemic began, Leslie’s has been offering curbside delivery and recently opened its doors to the public again last week. Though Mr. Holmberg did not cite the pandemic as a leading factor in the closure, he said continuing to support the community while also paying the bills has not been easy.

“Leslie’s makes the bulk of their income from over-the-counter products, taking a hit every day their doors remain shut,” the business wrote on its Facebook page this summer. “Small town, family-owned small pharmacies provide the kind of personal care that is so essential when dealing with the dangers and complexities of drug interactions.”

In July, Mr. Holmberg’s son, David, organized a GoFundMe campaign that raised about $36,000 of its $50,000 target through community contributions, but the additional support was not enough to keep the doors open long-term.

Reflecting on his 30 years running the business, Mr. Holmberg emphasized the contributions of his staff. “I would like to thank my fantastic family and staff (who are considered family to us). Their efforts have been beyond incredible and certainly undeserving of this ending,” he wrote in his statement.

He also praised the community for their unwavering support. “I really want to thank our extremely loyal customers,” Mr. Holmberg wrote. “You have supported my family and I for the past 17 years that we have owned the business. Your support is only exceeded by your generosity towards us!”