Sunday, February 28, 2010

Generation B - Independent Drugstores Seek Own Rx for Survival

From the New York Times:
Drugstore chains measure success in market share — Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, the three largest, fill one-third of all prescriptions in the United States. But small family-owned stores, like Tepper Pharmacy on East Lancaster Avenue here, build a business a customer at a time, sometimes at the darkest hour.

Barbara Renninger, 52, became a Tepper customer for life during a 1996 snowstorm. Her son had pneumonia, roads were impassable, stores in this Philadelphia suburb were closing early, and she needed a prescription filled. “Tepper said, ‘We’ll stay open until you can get here,’ ” she recalled. “I walked. The pharmacist was standing at the door waiting for me to lock up. You never forget something like that.”

Last Dec. 24, as the store was closing for the holiday, Naomi Bolts’s family called. Ms. Bolts, 79, was being discharged from the hospital at 4:30 Christmas Eve after open-heart surgery and needed 15 prescriptions filled. “I don’t know who did it, but I’m sure that nice young Joe Niagara was involved,” Ms. Bolts said last week. Mr. Niagara, 47, the manager, who started working 30 years ago as a delivery boy for the current owner’s father, stayed two extra hours, helping the pharmacist fill the order.

When Pauline Hirsch’s grandson became sick in the middle of the night, she reached the owner, Steven Tepper — who has a 24-hour answering service — and he came in to fill the prescription. “I shop here five days a week,” said Ms. Hirsch, 74. “I want them to stay in business.” ...more

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