How many times have you driven by that small drugstore on the corner and wondered what makes it different from big chain pharmacies?
Short answer — a lot! Independent pharmacies such as Carolina Pharmacy are owned and operated by small business owners who are local to their neighborhoods. Independents are different from chain drugstores and franchised-owned pharmacies, which are typically multi-unit (10+ stores) and owned and run by business groups.
While you may see chain and franchise-owned drug store advertising and marketing materials more frequently, it’s important to remember that their business is driven by creating revenue for shareholders. Independent pharmacies, on the other hand, develop cross-generational relationships with families and focus on continually improving the health and wellness of each customer.
Here are more facts about independent pharmacies you might not know:
- They have greater access to a variety of medications than chain pharmacies. Independents have relationships with more wholesalers to achieve a lower price and do not limit ordering medications due to high cost or revenue losses. Independent pharmacy owners generally oversee operations and have better inventory control and training than chains do.
- They focus on the neighborhood. Like other independent pharmacies, Carolina Pharmacy owners live close by and work in stores alongside their employees. They are dedicated to supporting local communities and those who depend on their services.
- Independent pharmacists are medication experts. All Carolina Pharmacy pharmacists went to pharmacy graduate school for at least four years, and most have a Doctorate in pharmacy. They take ongoing training classes to stay current on trends and changes to medication in the industry and have superior knowledge in the field.
- Independent pharmacies offer niche services. An excellent independent pharmacy focuses on the growing sector of niche services that customers value. Some of these services include:
- Immunizations and vaccines
- Compounding/custom prescriptions
- Veterinary/animal prescriptions
- Hospital/discharge regimen guidance
- Diabetes care
- Pharmacogenetic (genetic) testing
- Lab testing
- Health education and guidance
- Hypertension management
- They focus on personal relationships. Independent pharmacies are locally owned, and as a result place greater importance on developing personal relationships with clients. For Carolina Pharmacy, customers are neighbors, families, and friends.
- Independent pharmacies will deliver. While chains historically have not delivered medications to patients or businesses, delivery is a cornerstone of the independent pharmacy business that aligns with personalized care. Though some chains now deliver or offer mail order, service can be impersonal and sometimes leads to delivery issues for patients.
- Independent pharmacies look for ways to make medication affordable. Healthcare pricing is often out of our control, but we work diligently to bring down the cost of drugs for each patient while maintaining the utmost level of service and care. By maintaining relationships with other health providers and navigating the market, we keep healthcare affordable for our patients. Some of the methods we use to keep costs down include:
- Buying wholesale
- Using generic substitutes
- Therapeutic substitution
- Education and counseling
- Offering manufacturer coupons
- Low cash pricing
- Offering vaccinations
The best, most successful independent pharmacies support local communities and the independent pharmacy industry (each other). Carolina Pharmacy works with countless local school boards, charities, organizations, youth sports leagues, and local small businesses to promote, support, and advocate for what customers need for their families to be healthy and safe.
“We give back to our communities and support small business because we know that without our neighbors, we wouldn’t exist!” – Chirag “Chi” Patel, co-founder, Carolina Pharmacy
For more about independent pharmacies, visit the National Community Pharmacists Association.