The local, family-owned drug store has been a fixture in towns and cities—large, small and in between—since the very beginning of incorporated records. If you’re among those who enjoy a slice of Americana, there’s always been an unmistakable charm about old drug store signs jutting out from brick exteriors. In today’s world, everything is being remodeled and updated to meet customer expectations, except for a majority of pharmacy’s. Instead of modernization, often independent pharmacies are closing their doors, leaving for a vacant downtown in towns across the country.
Of course, this has been a steady change for quite some time.
Independent pharmacies are no longer indestructible in the purest sense. Particularly in recent years, the challenges they face have multiplied exponentially as “big box” retailers continue to expand and dominate the retail landscape. Subsequently, the thinned-out pool of customers in nearly every marketplace has intensified the financial pressure most independents face in simply keeping their doors open.
You don’t have to look far to hear stories of historically significant drug stores shuttering the windows for good due to increased competition. Others, like Lyon Pharmacy in Elkton, Maryland, an independent with a storied 142-year history, closed just last year under fiscal problems chiefly caused by insurance companies’ negative reimbursements for prescriptions.
In an online report published on cecildaily.com, Lyon Pharmacy owner Marybeth Cole spoke about how “devastated” she was about the decision to close after so many years. Unfortunately, her story about doing “everything possible” to keep the business going, only to fall short, has become increasingly common.
Yet, that doesn’t mean that it’s unavoidable. Or, that there might not be a better option around the corner.
The Lesson Learned From Lyon Pharmacy
The Lyon Pharmacy experience tells an all-too-familiar tale about how smaller pharmacies, which can’t buy drugs at lower, bulk rates like larger entities, pay more for drugs out of their pockets than what they get back from insurance companies. In Cole’s estimation, her business had been, in effect, “paying people to come in the door [as it pertained to] two out of [every] five prescriptions.”
Clearly, that’s not a sustainable business model. And yet, it didn’t necessarily have to mean the end for the business itself. Although it would have meant a change in name and branding. For those independent pharmacies that are unable to keep up with the price advantages of big-box retailers on their own merits, there is a better alternative on the shelf.
The Compelling Case For Converting to Benzer Pharmacy
For perspective, let’s examine the background of our Benzer Pharmacy location in Colfax, Iowa.
Before it was incorporated into the Benzer Pharmacy family, this location was a well-known and treasured landmark in the community. Family owned and operated as Weirick’s Drug Store, it had been in business for more than a hundred years. It still featured its iconic soda fountain—a historic throwback to a much simpler time.
According to a Newton Daily News piece from late 2016, Weirick’s was founded by H.A. Weirick in 1906, passing hands to George S. Weirick in 1928, then on to George T. Weirick in 1948, and finally to fourth-generation proprietor Brenda Weirick Pierce who announced the pharmacy’s sale to Benzer.
Her reasons were simple. Weirick’s simply could not handle the rising cost-of-goods without greater financial resources, customer service support, and competitive visibility. So, a change had to be made if the store was to remain operational.
Not Much Changed After Converting to Benzer Pharmacy
For Brenda, the solution came in the form of converting Weirick’s to Benzer Pharmacy. Certainly, the community would miss seeing the old script letters on the building. But they would not have to miss out on seeing the same friendly and familiar faces. Benzer employs the converted store’s staff so the transition for customers is simple. The result is the independent pharmacy staff becoming Benzer Pharmacy employees. Nothing else has to change.
Nor would they have to lament the loss of Weirick’s historic soda fountain.
Far from being a company that leads the hostile growth of bland, impersonal, mega-pharmacy operations. Benzer Pharmacy seeks to preserve the things that have always set local pharmacies apart. We work to maintain the customer service advantages while providing formerly independent pharmacists with the resources they need to remain in business.
Turns out, a change to Benzer Pharmacy can be a refreshing change for all.