CUBA CITY — With 25 years of experience working for others, pharmacist Jon Wilson is venturing out to open a new pharmacy in Cuba City.
The new store, Hometown Pharmacy, is anticipated to open in mid-February.
Wilson, of Platteville, said he has worked for large pharmacy companies, but nothing compares to the connection he’s experienced while working at an independently owned pharmacy. Wilson began his career at Shopko, and after five years moved to Walmart’s pharmacy in Prairie du Chien for six years. He changed pace by starting at Cardin’s Drug Store in Cuba City 14 years ago.
“Working in a big company is a great learning experience,” he said. “But you don’t really get to invest in the people’s lives very much. I fell in love with pharmacy 25 years ago, but when I got to Cuba City, I got more of a chance to be a part of people’s lives, to be a part of the town. You actually start to care about the people.”
Wilson said he fell in love with Cuba City and his goal was to stay in the community if possible. Opening the new pharmacy in Cuba City should allow him to stay for many more years.
He said Hometown Pharmacy is a pliable model that allows a pharmacy to stay in Cuba City. Independent pharmacies are becoming less viable in the smaller communities.
“They allow you to practice independently and still operate as if you own the store,” said Wilson.
Wilson looked at several options before making his decision to run a Hometown Pharmacy store. First he looked into purchasing a local independent pharmacy and running it on his own.
“I couldn’t do enough differently that would change the inevitable outcome that seems to be coming for the little independents,” said Wilson. “Usually those little stores sell out to larger stores … There’s really not many options out there. You can go work for the big pharmacies as an employee, which I’ve done, or try to function as a small independent pharmacy.
“Hometown Pharmacy is a unique group in Wisconsin that has seen this market. They partner with the independents and you still get to act independently and run your own store, but on the other hand they offer stuff on the back side, such as buying power, to buy at a competitive rate, and making contracts with the insurance agencies.”
Hometown Pharmacy also provides services like a website and computer programs to compare prescriptions.
Wilson said Hometown Pharmacy has its own compounding pharmacy in Sun Prairie.
“If a doctor wants a special product made, I can have it made there and sent to us,” he said.
Hometown also has a home health department located in Fort Atkinson that would allow access to specialty home care products.
“By being connected to this group, I have access to things that I never would have access to being on my own,” said Wilson.
Hometown Pharmacy has just received its license to buy directly from manufacturers, allowing prescriptions to be purchased closer to the prices of the larger pharmacies.
“One of the things the independent business struggles with is buying from wholesalers with mark-ups,” said Wilson. “You can’t stay in business if you can’t stay competitive with the big stores.”
Hometown Pharmacy has been going for approximately 12 years and has 26 stores.
The Cuba City location won’t be just a pharmacy. The store will feature a gift store with natural and organic products, women’s accessories, school supplies, pharmacy items, jewelry, gifts and candles. The shopping merchandise is chosen from out of the area, but Wilson will be able to find local vendors to add local products to the store as well.
Wilson said one downside to this location will be the absence of a drive-up service. However, he plans to have curb-side pick-up as an option.