The Mount Airy Pharmacy
- July 2, 2012
- on 7/2/2012
- MoJo: DonnaMarie Needle
Pharmacist Kenneth Lee has been the friendly face you’ve seen behind the counter of the Mount Airy Pharmacy since 1988. Lee has been working in a pharmacy since he was in high school. He worked originally for People’s and then Drugfair where he was a regional manager overseeing 100 stores across Maryland and Delaware, south central Pennsylvania and D.C. When Drugfair was eventually bought out by Rite Aid, an opportunity to become a partner in a small chain presented itself, and Lee took the leap.
The partnership originally included four additional locations in New Market, Emmitsburg, Thurmont and Brunswick. In 2006, Lee split from his partner and took the Mount Airy and New Market locations.
The philosophy was to operate a cutting edge pharmacy with a small town feel. Mount Airy Pharmacy’s unique old train station location in downtown Mount Airy is exactly that with a very nostalgic look and feel. “We have many customers who come tell us they remember when this was a real train station,” said Lee.
Although the pharmacy’s operations are completely modernized, the customer’s experience is unmatched by the bigger chain stores. It’s the personal service his customers have come to know and love; Lee very much appreciates his customer’s loyalty. “They are the heart and soul of my business,” said Lee.
Lee said he considers service to be a product and that’s why he sets himself apart form his competition. “Our philosophy is to get you in and out as quickly as we can,” said Lee. Without a big box store dictating the process, it provides an opportunity for Lee and his staff to get to know their customers a little bit more and offer more personalized service. Lee admits that sometimes it’s a little more difficult to compete with the larger pharmacy chains due to advertising and extended hour advantages, however the pharmacy’s hours are consistent with the Main Street community; Lee said he thinks the consistency is important.
Right next door are the offices of several physicians, including a pediatrian, which makes the pharmacy location quite the attraction for families with little ones. “That’s the nice thing about being together in the building,” said Lee. “Especially with a sick kid, there’s one saved trip and no in and out of the car several times.”
Good old “word of mouth” is how the Mount Airy Pharmacy attracts and maintains most new customers. “Generally once we get someone to come in, they most likely come back,” said Lee. “Mostly because I think it’s a good experience.”
Lee said that they try to select items that he knows are not stocked in the chain stores, such as home health care items and safety aids like wheelchairs, walkers and crutches. “As opposed to devoting a lot of space to hair spray and toothpaste,” laughed Lee.
Lee indicated the downtown business climate has changed quite a bit since the early ‘80s. “The library, the lumber company, the hardware store, the thrift shop and even the fire company was downtown,” said Lee. “So there was a lot going on.” Lee said although there’s a lot going on downtown now, it’s more of a retail environment. “There’s more restaurants and shopping,” noted Lee.
Lee also said the bank building, now closed and empty, used to be a big draw for the pharmacy. Lee looks forward to a time when the bank building is refurbished. “I think it’s a shame that it’s falling into such disrepair,” said Lee. “I think the longer it sits empty, the worse it gets.”
The Mount Airy Pharmacy is located at 1 North Main Street in Mount Airy.
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