If you shop at a big chain pharmacy for your prescriptions and are unhappy with the service or wait times, you should look for a local pharmacy. When I say ‘local pharmacy,’ I mean any small-town, locally owned, or family-owned pharmacy. There are many reasons why you should consider a local pharmacy, and I’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most important ones.
1. Local Pharmacies Have the Same Pricing as Chain Pharmacies for Most Prescriptions.
Most people think that chain pharmacies have lower prices than local pharmacies for prescription medications. This is not true for most customers.
Certain insurance plans will only allow you to use a specific pharmacy to fill prescriptions. Some offers and special insurance plan pricing can only be redeemed at specific chains. Outside of reasons like this, you will pay the same price for prescriptions at a local pharmacy or chain pharmacy. Prices should be the same at all pharmacies for any insurance plan that doesn’t specify a ‘preferred pharmacy.’
With that out of the way, let’s talk about more reasons why you should transfer your prescriptions to a local pharmacy.
2. Talk to a Pharmacist Whenever You Need.
Chain pharmacies operate with small pharmacy staffs. Generally, most shifts are covered by as few employees as needed. The pharmacist fills while the tech takes care of face to face duties. Note that certain times of year and even times of day (based on location) can change this.
Local pharmacies hang their hat on having accessible pharmacists. While pharmacists at locals still primarily fill prescriptions, they are also a constant face-to-face presence for customers.
Consulting with a pharmacist at a chain pharmacy can be difficult. Focusing only on filling prescriptions quickly and efficiently doesn’t leave a lot of extra time to chat. Some chains even have corporate-set prescription filling metrics, leaving them virtually no time to talk to customers. Local pharmacy pharmacists can cater to individual customers, giving you the information you need without too much waiting.
3. Pharmacists Know You, Not Just Your Medication List.
Pharmacists that have more face-to-face time with their customers are more familiar with their customers and their individual needs. Local pharmacists regularly interact with customers and their families.
Some prescription customers take more medications than others. A pharmacist that regularly fills your medicine and knows how you react to other medications is more likely to give you feedback and consult about potential prescription interactions.
4. More Personalized Consultations.
Speaking of consulting with a local pharmacist, getting a private consultation is much easier at a local pharmacy. Chain pharmacies will sometimes have a pharmacist on duty who is there to consult. Local pharmacy pharmacists are almost always available to consult. This is a big difference.
Being able to speak to a pharmacist that knows you in an emergency situation allows you to quickly get accurate information. Sometimes waiting for the on-duty pharmacist at a chain for a consultation just takes too long.
5. Easy to Reach a Specific Pharmacist or Pharmacy Tech.
Finding a specific pharmacist or technician you spoke to in the past at a chain pharmacy can be difficult. If the pharmacist or tech is not working when you come back to talk to them, you end up wasting time.
Local Pharmacies can locate specific pharmacists and techs more easily. If you need a quick question answered, many off-duty pharmacists can be reached via text or email. Chain pharmacies often have employees who work at many different stores and can’t be easily reached.
6. Consumers Believe Local Pharmacies Offer Better Service Than Chains.
Year after year Consumer Reports shows that local pharmacies have better service than chains. There are a few reasons why this is true every year.
At many local pharmacies, the pharmacist is an owner, shareholder, or long-time employee. This means these pharmacists are personally invested in the business. Treating customers right and giving them the service they need is imperative to run a successful local business. Word of mouth is still the most influential form of marketing, and local pharmacists want that word of mouth to be great!
Working as a pharmacist is much different in a local pharmacy environment than in a chain. Local pharmacists have regular contact with customers, non-pharmacy team members, and sales representatives. Many local pharmacists know more about general pharmacy activities than their chain counterparts.
A Note from Hannah, one of Oswald’s Pharmacists: “I learned so much about how a pharmacy operates when I started working at Oswald’s. Things that pharmacists just didn’t have to worry about at the chains. We work hard to create and set our own pharmacy policies, as we don’t have a corporate branch to fall back on. This isn’t just a job for us; we actually put our heart and soul into making sure our pharmacy is the best it can be.”
The phrase ‘not my job’ doesn’t exist in a local pharmacist’s vocabulary.
7. Local Pharmacies Will Help You Get the Medication You Need for the Best Price.
Here’s a pro-tip: If the co-pay price you need to cover for a prescription ever seems extremely high, ask if you can pay in cash (out-of-pocket). Pharmacies aren’t normally allowed to solicit cash prices, but they can answer specific questions you have on pricing.
Local pharmacists are also often available to help with insurance call questions and prior authorizations for certain prescriptions. Chain pharmacists often don’t have the time to deal with specific prior authorization calls and some technicians lack the qualifications to do so.
Local pharmacists are almost always willing to call your doctor for alternative medications when your insurance won’t cover something.
8. Options for Your Prescriptions and More.
Many insurance plans that direct customers to chain pharmacies will only pay for certain versions of medications (only brand name, only generic version etc). If your plan will cover other forms of a medication, local pharmacies are more likely to give you the best option for your needs.
Orders placed by local pharmacies are made by the pharmacist on duty—not a regional or area controller—so you know you will get what you need.
And don’t worry: local pharmacies can handle patient and medication transfers just as smoothly as the chains.
9. Local Pharmacies Support Your Community
Do you remember the last time you saw a Walgreens or CVS float in your local parade? Neither do I. This is a noticeable, albeit minor, example of lack of local support from chain pharmacies.
Local pharmacies are often prominent community members and contributors. Everything from tax dollars paid to charity donations made by most local pharmacies is going right back into the local economy.
A question for you: If your daughter’s girl scout troop was seeking donations, who would you approach first—a chain pharmacy or the local, family-owned pharmacy?
99 times out of 100 it will be the local pharmacy. They don’t have to jump through corporate hoops to help a local group in need of donations.
10. Local Pharmacies are in Business to Help You.
It’s tough to stay in business as an independent pharmacy. With large corporations owning insurance companies and pharmacies, it can be hard to find a pharmacy that puts customer health first.
Local pharmacies not only want to put customers first; most of them need to put customers first. Putting customers first is how local pharmacies still exist. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: local business puts customers first and treats them right, customers come back (sometimes with friends).
Giant corporate chain pharmacies are in the game to make money for shareholders. This is not to say any particular chain pharmacist is bad—in fact, many chain pharmacists are very good at their jobs. But, at the end of the day, the goal of the business is making money, not keeping customers happy. And why would you go back to a business that only cares about you as a dollar bill when there are similar businesses that care about you as a person?
Oswald’s Pharmacy: Naperville’s Oldest Pharmacy and Medical Equipment Provider
We’ve been in business for going on 150 years for a reason: we care about our customers and our community. The past 3 generations of Oswald’s Pharmacy owners have been president of the Naperville Rotary Club and board members of countless local organizations.
Oswald’s Pharmacy has had lifelong customers who keep coming back because we’ve helped them, their families, and their community. We’re in business for our customers, our family, our team members, and our community above all else.
We’re here to give you the best pharmacy experience we can.