In 1960, a teenaged Delbert Cranford got an after-school job as a stock boy. And it was there at Mann Drug in Asheboro, North Carolina — while lining up shelves of shampoo and aspirin — that he figured out his future.buy Codeine online

“I watched the pharmacist help people, and I started to think about what I wanted to do when I was done with high school,” Cranford says. “I already knew I enjoyed chemistry and I wanted to help people, so I decided I’d study pharmacy.” buy Doxycycline online

Cranford went on to run his own drug store, Denton Drug in Denton, North Carolina, in addition to becoming part-owner of several other drug stores in the area, including Asheboro Drug and Randleman Drug. buy Lorazepam online 

During his 50-plus years in the business, Cranford has seen the world of pharmacy change. And perhaps more importantly, as a successful businessman, he has learned how to adapt to those changes and stay competitive — even when the big box retailers and chain drug stores started popping up around town. buy Tramadol online UK

“I think we have been successful because we get to know our customers. They are like family to us,” Cranford says. “We know what they need and we know their situation. And they trust us.”

John Norton, spokesman for National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), says independent community pharmacies play an important role in healthcare and that for many people, a pharmacist is the most accessible healthcare provider.BUY Xanax online UK

There are currently about 22,500 independent pharmacies in the United States, and these pharmacies dispense nearly half of the nation’s retail prescription medicines, Norton says.

All told, independent pharmacies are an $81.4 billion marketplace annually. They fill 1.38 billion prescriptions a year — about 201 a day, per pharmacy — and employ 314,000 people on a full- or part-time basis.

Staying nimble

Prior to the 1980s, small, independent pharmacies were the norm, NCPA’s Norton says, and there were more than 40,000 of them in the United States. But between 1980 and 2000, chain drugstores such as Walgreens and Rite Aid and big retailers like Walmart spread widely across the country.

By 2000, more than 17,000 independent pharmacies had lost the fight against these Goliaths and shuttered their stores.

Interestingly, though, as Norton points out, the independent pharmacies that weathered that boom are still going strong. Since 2000, the number of independent drugstores has held at roughly 22,500. Today, 40 percent of all pharmacies are independently-owned shops.

So how do they survive when the chain stores have been the demise of many small retailers? Those in the business offer five tips for staying in the trade:

1. Seek new revenue sources

Jesse Pike Jr., a third-generation pharmacist and owner of Pike’s Pharmacy in Charlotte, North Carolina, says success as an independent pharmacy owner can come down to ingenuity.

For example, to boost revenue, his store handles medications for a nearby retirement community with 200 residents. Each morning he picks up refill requests and returns twice more to deliver medication. He also has a partnership to serve the local homeless and women’s shelters to ensure they get the medications they need.

“We’ve created these partnerships and it’s kept us in business,” says Pike, whose grandfather opened the family’s first pharmacy in Concord, North Carolina in 1919. “You have to cultivate new business. If you sit on your haunches as an independent pharmacy, you’ll become a dinosaur.”

Independent pharmacies offer a wide range of services that many of the larger, chain pharmacies and big box retailers do not.

For example, according to NCPA statistics, the top services offered in 2014 were

  • Delivery (78 percent of independent stores offered)
  • Patient charge accounts (77 percent)
  • Immunizations (71 percent)
  • Compounding (65 percent)
  • Sale of durable medical goods (56 percent)

By offering specialized services, independent pharmacies can become destination stops for customers in need of these services.

Consider compounding. Back before drugs were manufactured in bulk, a pharmacist created and mixed them by hand. Known as compounding, this process requires skill, experience and equipment that many larger retailers don’t care to invest in.

It is still needed at times today, Cranford says. For example, if people are allergic to red dye — an ingredient in certain medications — they cannot use the manufactured version. But a pharmacist skilled in compounding can create the same medication, minus the dye.

Additionally, Pike says medications for animals also often require compounding, since proper doses need to be adjusted for a variety of factors, including breed and weight.

3. Be convenient

At his stores, Cranford says they have worked to find locations that are easily accessible.

Whether it’s due to aging, illness or simply impatience, many people don’t want to have to walk through a big box store to retrieve a prescription. Cranford says they have picked locations that allow customers to park right by the door, and they keep shop sizes small so that customers can get in and get out quickly. And if they don’t want to come in at all, there’s a drive-through. buy Adderall online

At his store, Pike says convenience is always a consideration. He is always happy to chat and provide information but will not hold up a customer who is in a hurry.

“If you aren’t convenient, the customer cannot waste the time to come to you,” he says. “And they won’t.”

4. Educate your customers

One misconception that owners of independent drugstores face is that because of economies of scale, chain and bigger retailers can offer lower prices.

But that’s the not case, Cranford says. First, many small pharmacies join with other independents to buy so that they can take advantage of bulk-pricing discounts. For example, his stores are part of a co-op that buys for 700 shops. buy Clonazepam online

Second, customers with insurance or prescription cards will pay the same co-pay regardless of which pharmacy they visit.

“Back when I started, pricing was a big thing,” he says. “But with insurance and prescription cards, price is not an issue anymore.”

5. Keep it simple

While many independent drugstores stock more than just prescription medications, most keep it pretty simple compared to their chain-store counterparts, which can stock everything from a family-sized inflatable pool to a slow cooker. buy Citalopram online

Cranford offers some over-the-counter medications, greeting cards, beauty products, and a few racks of $1 items. But all these combined only make up 15 percent of his business, with the remaining 85 percent prescriptions.buy Ativan online 

At Pike’s Pharmacy, the product line-up is much the same. Barring a rack of greeting cards, the focus is largely on health products. And prescription, over-the-counter and old-fashioned medicines are in the spotlight.buy Alprazolam online

Both men admit it’s a vast change from the past. The pharmacies they worked in as younger pharmacists sold a large variety of goods, and some even included a soda fountain. Both also admit being a little nostalgic for the latter, but say the business model of today’s streamlined pharmacy is a lot more sensible for most pharmacy owners. buy Adderall online

“It’s so labor-intensive to have a soda fountain,” Pike says. “Have you ever made a real, old-fashioned milkshake? It takes considerable time, and the profit just isn’t there.” buy Acetaminophe online

The future

For his part, Cranford thinks the small, independent community pharmacy is here to stay. Now semi-retired himself, he sold his business interests to his daughter and son-in-law, Lora and Michael Griffin, both pharmacists. They run the stores today.BUY STEROID ONLINE

“I guess I’m an eternal optimist,” Cranford says. “But I think the best-kept secret is to go into the business. I think there’s a future in it.”BUY DIAZEPAM ONLINE 

Pike agrees, saying the neighborhood drugstore is a fixture that won’t disappear anytime soon. His daughter is now the fourth generation of Pike pharmacists and he believes as long as independent pharmacies keep adapting to the changing market they can prosper, even in challenging times.

“Our neighborhood has been through some tough times,” he said. “But all through it — no matter what — there was a need for the corner drugstore.”

First Bank might be new to Raleigh, but for more than 80 years, this independent community bank has been a supporter of the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the Carolinas. Visit localfirstbank.com/hiraleigh or stop by one of our locations in Raleigh, Apex, or Fuquay-Varina. Member FDIC.

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