NEW BUFFALO — Paul Zdanis had worked for New Buffalo/Three Oaks Pharmacy (and more recently Grand Variety in New Buffalo when Hometown Pharmacy took over that part of the business) one month shy of 36 years when he reached his final day as manager on Wednesday, April 3.
“That doesn’t count the two years I worked as a stock boy from ‘75 to ‘77 when I was in high school (he graduated from NBHS in 1977, went to college at Siena Heights University and worked for a photographer before Ray Wojdula opened the Three Oaks store in 1983) “and got me back on board.”
“I’ve been here ever since,” Zdanis said.
Zdanis said he switched between managing the New Buffalo and Three Oaks sites every few years before the Three Oaks location closed and he stayed at New Buffalo.
“You name it I’ve done it, seen it.”
He will now work as a merchandiser for Detroit-based Great Lakes Wine (which also supplies liquor and some beers).
“I’ll have a route somewhere between here and Niles, Benton Harbor, St. Joe, Stevensville, Bridgman, New Buffalo,” Zdanis said.
During just a all portion of his last afternoon at the store Zdanis helped customers purchase lottery tickets, ship packages and find for sale signs. He said a typical day involves everything from cutting keys and answering questions involving hardware and wine pairings to steering customers toward the wide variety of household items, toys, beach toys and accessories, fans, holiday items, beer, wine and liquor and more offered in the Grand Variety aisles.
Paul will be succeeded as manager by Bobby Trock, who has been at the store for several years.
“I’ve learned a lot from the little time that I’ve spent with him,” Trock said of Zdanis. “He knows how to take care of people, he knows how to respect people, and that’s important in this business. That’s why we’ve succeeded as much as we did, because of him.”
Zdanis stayed active as a professional photography for 40 years from high school on doing weddings, senior portraits.
He still takes scenic shots “of anything that doesn’t talk back.”
He also was a member of the New Buffalo City Fire Department for 35 years and was an owner of the Strip Tees shop downtown from 1984 to 1994.
Zdanis said his favorite part of working for the pharmacies/Grand Variety store was “the people — seeing all the people come in, all my regulars.”
A veritable parade of regular customers and some fellow employees stopped by on April 3 to which him well.
With 2 hours and 44 minutes remaining on his final day, Zdanis greeted former store employee (of 16 years) Krindy Kissman.
“He was one of the best guys I’ve ever worked for,” she said. “He would actually jump into the mix to help the employees get everything taken care of.”