Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — One Benton pharmacy is moving to a new building in October, while a second is merging with a national chain.
Karen Jones, owner of Nelson Pharmacy said her business will merge with CVS Pharmacy on Oct. 20. CVS’s projected day of opening is Oct. 21. Her business sold its prescription list to the chain store. CVS offered Jones and all of her employees jobs at the new store at Benton’s West Fifth and Main streets. Jones said she will work at the new store as a staff pharmacist and help with the transition of customers from her old store to the new.
Meanwhile, Jeff Wiseman of J&R Pharmacy, said he is moving his store from George McClain Drive, adjacent to the former Marshall County Hospital to Main Street.
“Its looking like we will be open at our new location with a tentative opening date of Oct. 22,” Wiseman said. “We’re including a drive-in window and want to be more accessible to our customers. The main thing is taking care of our customers.”
Jones said she chose to merge with CVS in the face of declining reimbursements from insurers.
“Insurance companies now control how much profit we make. At some point, they may take it all,” Jones said.
Jones added she was unsure how many of her eight employees would follow her to CVS. Other aspects of her business, like the lunch counter, would shut down. While she retains ownership of the building that is the current home of Nelson Pharmacy, with her husband Jeff, she said she hopes to rent the building to another business. She has signed a non-compete agreement with CVS and cannot lease the building to another pharmacy.
Wiseman said his pharmacy has been in its current location since 1968. He has 10 to 12 employees and hopes to add more as the business grows at its new location.
“Customers will see the same service they’ve enjoyed for years, just with some new technology,” Wiseman said. “We know 90 percent of our customers by name and have been open since 1949.”
Wiseman said the benefit of filling prescriptions at a community pharmacy is the relationship between customers and the druggist. He described a pharmacist’s ability to follow a client’s medicines and recognize adverse drug interactions.
Jones said the main focus of her business has been customer service. At CVS, she plans to do the same.
“Customers have mixed emotions. Many wish I was staying here because we’ve been a part of the community for so many years. Most understand the challenges we face with the health care environment. No one has expressed hard feelings and everyone is supportive,” Jones said.