OAKLAND -- Montclair residents and merchants gathered to bid farewell to two landmark businesses -- The Montclair Pharmacy and Sarber's Cameras -- that have been fixtures in the community for more than 50 years.
The Oct. 3 event was put on by the Montclair Village Association and catered by Italian Colors. Well-wishers reminisced about good times with a string trio playing in the background. US Bank hosted the event.
"The event was a wonderful celebration of the years they have been part of the community," said Linda Foss, the branch manager of US Bank and president of the Montclair Village Association. "I am sad that a pillar of our community is leaving, and we all wish them the best in their future endeavors and adventures."
"I'm very sad to see them go," said Mohammed Khatib, owner of Annie's Hallmark. "They are part of the Village for more than 50 years. It's like losing family members."
The Montclair Pharmacy closed its doors earlier this fall after 73 years in business. The pharmacy opened in the Village in 1935. Bill and Helen Sullivan bought the business in 1962 and have run it with their family ever since.
"I'm a little more sentimental than I care to think about. The worst thing about closing is leaving the customers and friends behind," said Bill Sullivan. "We will miss the pharmacy and the community. It's hard to express my gratitude."
The Sullivans have returned to their native Montana with their family to live on a ranch.
"We will miss you," said Steve Montgomery, the owner of Italian Colors. "It's what you do for the community all the time. It is the personal service that the Village is built on. We can only strive to follow the example you have set for us."
Roger Boaz, of Piedmont Pines, appreciated the value of local businesses. "It's great to be on a first-name basis with the people you deal with," he said. "I always get what I want here (in Montclair)."
"My initial feeling is how special of a neighborhood this is," said Tom Revelli, the owner of Montclair Sports. "The Sullivans commitment to this community has been a priceless investment. They didn't stop until their commitment was met."
"The Sarbers and the Sullivans were the first people to welcome me to the Village said Kevin Benafield, who owned the skate shop Magpie from 2009 through 2011. "I really admire them. When you've been in business for 50 years you're doing something right."
Jack Summerfield, the owner of the former Summerfield Stationary, recalled a young man -- the late Peter Sarber -- coming into his shop in 1964 and asking his opinion if he should open a camera shop in Montclair Village. They became fast friends.
David Sarber, president of Sarber's Cameras, announced at the gathering that the family had decided not to close the store at the time they had originally planned.
"We are retiring, but the timeline has changed due to circumstances beyond our control," Sarber said.
"I am proud of the legacy left by these businesses and the standard they have set," said Daniel Swafford, administrator for the Montclair Village Association.