MARCO ISLAND — A Marco Island drugstore has closed after nearly 43 years.
Island Drug store left its shelves empty and a vacant store in Marco Town Center Mall.
Across the nation, small mom-and-pop stores have shut down, unable to compete against national giants CVS and Walgreens. But Island Drug owners Larry and Susan Heine closed the small shop at 1089 N. Collier Blvd. two years after suing Marco Island and its then-police chief, Thom Carr, accusing police of harassment by threatening to arrest customers purchasing prescriptions.
Callers to the store's phone number are told nearby CVS Pharmacy has taken over for the "former Island Drug store."
The couple's attorney, Mike McDonnell of Naples, said the Heines wouldn't comment on the closing and a business lawyer was handling their lease and business matters.
But he noted that the Heines won a key hurdle in their civil rights lawsuit in April, when U.S. District Judge Charlene Honeywell denied the city and former chief's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
"It clearly established we ain't going to be living in a police state any time soon," McDonnell said Tuesday. "It was very clear to the judge that it's well established law that you don't browbeat citizens and intimidate and deprive them of their livelihoods."
Carr retired a year after the couple sued, but the 65-year-old denied that prompted his decision after 12 years with the department, three as its chief.
The lawsuit alleges that Carr, Marco Island Police and the city were violating the store's civil rights by demanding that the pharmacy cease filling prescriptions for nonlocal residents and threatening to shut it down.
It also accuses police of maliciously or recklessly detaining customers as they left, searching them, issuing trespass warnings, threatening arrest, stopping customers' cars and parking patrol cars nearby to deter customers — all without probable cause, reasonable suspicion or legal justification.
The lawsuit said that caused customers to go elsewhere, harmed the shop's reputation and caused it to lose income. The couple always maintained their policy of checking customers, prescriptions and doctors was more stringent than others.
Attorneys for the city and former chief, and officials with Brixmor, which handles leasing at the mall, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.