May 12--NEW LONDON -- Pharmacist/owner Joseph Thibeault wants his new Quality Care Drug to be the kind of place like the bar in the 1980s sitcom "Cheers."
"We will know customers' names. We will be part of the neighborhood," said Thibeault, who has been a pharmacist almost 30 years and opened the independent pharmacy at 467 Ocean Ave., in a portion of the old Falvey's auto dealership, this month.
It's the fourth Quality Care Drug for Thibeault and his partner, Greg McKenna, who looked for a residential area to locate their latest pharmacy. Their other locations are in Higganum, Centerbrook and Portland.
"We just thought the area was conducive for an independent pharmacy," said Thibeault. "It's a neighborhood, and I feel we are part of the neighborhood. People can walk by, they can stop in."
Last week, Thibeault, his wife, Lee Ann, and a pharmacy technician were busy stocking the store and greeting people who came in to welcome them to the neighborhood. Monday was a soft opening, with a ribbon-cutting set for May 27 and the grand opening May 31.
The couple emphasized that their niche is personal attention and customer service.
"As the manager/owner, I'll be here a lot of the time," said Thibeault, who has hired one other pharmacist and two technicians for a total staff of four.
An independent pharmacy is not affiliated with a chain store but can offer the same pricing and accepts all the same insurance plans and co-pays, said Thibeault.
Transferring prescriptions will be easy and there will be free, local delivery seven days a week, he said.
Last weekend, Thibeault and his staff went door-to-door through a wide swath of the south end of the city, hanging bright yellow paper tags with information about the pharmacy on door knobs, including an offer for a $5Dunkin Donuts gift card to neighbors who returned the tag to Quality Care Drug.
While small, the store, which is newly painted and carpeted, includes a full line of typical drug store products, as well as a small selection of gifts and a large array of greeting cards. There are over-the-counter products, medical supplies, candies and crackers, sunglasses, batteries, and most everything else a customer would find in a larger store, including durable medical equipment, diabetes supplies and incontinence care.
Thibeault, who has worked in other pharmacies, including a chain drug store, said the biggest question customers typically have with an independent pharmacy is whether it will cost more. The answer, he said, is no because insurance companies dictate pricing and co-pays are the same everywhere.
He also touted Quality Care's medication management and specialty packaging, where a patient's drugs for a month are pre-organized in weekly planners, vials or blister packs with easy-to-follow instructions. The pharmacy will also offer prescription compounding of medicines not available commercially, with the exception of sterile compounds.
Last winter, the pharmacy owners sought a special permit to open the 1,570-square-foot store in about a quarter of the 5,900-square-foot former Falvey's dealership. The property is located within a neighborhood business zone, and the permit was granted.
While the pharmacy is a business opportunity for Thibeault, it is also a bonus for the neighborhood, the owner said, because it will provide easy and convenient access to health care products.
He's already met with representatives from nearby physician's offices and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. And he and his staff have patronized the nearby restaurants and coffee shops.
"We like it here," said Thibeault, who added the business will employ the latest technology and offer old-fashioned service.
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