A neighborhood staple in Boston’s North End is closing its doors.
Green Cross Pharmacy is the American Dream of two Italian immigrants who are known for going above and beyond for their customers.
Friday afternoon, the door wouldn’t stop swinging open as people poured in to give a hug, a handshake or a thank you to Guiseppe and Fernando Giangregorio, more commonly known as Peppi and Freddy.
The two brothers are days away from closing their doors, but could be heard Friday with their thick Italian accents giving special attention to their customers’ needs.
“They go above and beyond to help your need as pharmacists and friends,” said Bobby Colleameno, who has been coming to the pharmacy for as long as he can remember.
A steady stream of goodbyes to the pharmacy from customers has had Freddy and Peppi tearing up from time to time. They didn’t think retiring would be this difficult.
“Oh, man, I am going to miss them,” said Vincent D’Amato.
D’Amato said the fondest memory he has is when his wife was pushing a stroller past the pharmacy when its wheel fell off. The owners came running out to fix the wheel for the young mother with no questions asked.
It’s one of the many gestures the brothers have done for people over the years. They are unlike your typical Walgreens and CVS. They carry out family values here. Their focus isn’t so much on making money as on caring for their community, although the two brothers won’t come out and admit it.
“Let me tell you something, it’s nothing special what we did. We did our work with all our hearts and the best we could do it,” Guiseppe said.
What they don’t mention, though, is all the times they made hand deliveries to people who were too sick to get the pharmacy, went above and beyond to get a medication if there was a shortage of it, called doctors to get refills so customers didn’t have to deal with the headache, and gave anyone a store tab who couldn’t afford an expensive medication.
“When you trust the people and the people trust you — you have no worries,” said Guiseppe. “You don’t need any writing or anything.”
The two brothers are in their early 80s — Guiseppe lives above the pharmacy, and his brother in Revere with his wife. Both men are looking forward to relaxing, spending time in the garden and doing a little traveling. There were some days in their over 55 years of work they would come in at 7 a.m. and not leave until midnight.
NBC10 Boston asked them why they ran the business they way they did, putting kindness before making money. The brothers said their father died in the war, and they watched their mother struggle to feed them. They knew what real misery was from a young age, and it’s inspired them to have compassion for their regulars and even tourists.
Guiseppe talked about a time a young tourist came into buy a camera and didn’t have enough money to pay for it, so he promised to be right back. He didn’t return, but his father did a year later, telling the men his son got excited and forgot to come back and pay. So the father paid the debt a year later.
The brothers had dozens of stories like these, and it’s those moments that made it so easy for them to do what they thought was the right thing.
Just talking to Guiseppe and Fernando for one afternoon sparks a wonder about what the world could be if every business operated in this way, more for humankind and less for the paycheck.
By the dozens of calls, visits and presents they are getting at Green Pharmacy, there’s no question they’ve had a lasting and strong impression on more people than most, not just through medicine, but through kindness.
“If we wanted to do what the big stores do, we would be millionaires. But we just are working with people,” said Guiseppe.
The store’s final day is Tuesday. They said the storefront would be empty, as far as they know, until a new business moves in.