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Small drugstore welcomes chain pharmacy to neighborhood

February 24, 2001

Small drugstore welcomes chain pharmacy to neighborhood



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


Hagerstown pharmacist Dave Russo didn't worry when the chain drugstore opened next to his small family pharmacy on Cannon Avenue.

Instead, he saw an opportunity for further success at Russo's RX.

CVS Pharmacy No. 4199 became Russo's neighbor on Feb. 18 after the large drugstore moved from its longtime location at the Ames Shopping Center to 34 N. Cannon Ave.

"It was actually a good thing," said Russo, who opened his 25 N. Cannon Ave. store in 1980.

Russo said CVS will draw more potential customers to the neighborhood family pharmacy.

He had wondered how to gain access to the bountiful customer base at the old CVS, formerly Revco. The relocation provides an easy answer because CVS traffic must pass Russo's to reach the larger store on Cannon Avenue.

"Now, they're going to be delivering them right across the street from me," said Russo, 49, of Hagerstown. "My best advertising now is probably my street sign."

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It's a misconception that chain pharmacies such as CVS drive independently-owned drugstores out of business, said CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis.

Many communities need more pharmacies to meet the increasing demand for prescription drugs as the population ages, he said.

"While it's a very competitive industry, it's also a very healthy industry," said DeAngelis, who works out of CVS Corporate Headquarters in Rhode Island.

The CVS and Russo's pharmacies will likely have a cooperative relationship, he said.

If one store can't fill an order, the pharmacist has a professional duty to refer the customer to a nearby store, DeAngelis said.

Russo said he has always enjoyed a good rapport with nearby CVS pharmacists and he expects a "great deal of cooperation" from his new neighbors.

He isn't worried about losing business to the larger store.

Many of his customers have been filling their prescriptions at Russo's for years because they like the convenience and service, Russo said.

More than 50 percent of his new business comes from word-of-mouth referrals, but anything that pulls people to the neighborhood will help, Russo said.

"People shop," he said.

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