Photo: Pharmacist Richard Simon at Belmont Pharmacy.
When Jack wished to see the Giant, he had to climb a magic bean stalk that reached far into the sky.
All Robert Pavlan needs to do to find his “giant” is stick his head out the door of the newly-opened Belmont Pharmacy, look to the left and there is a 95,800 sq.-ft. CVS/pharmacy staring right back at him.
But the life-long independent pharmacist, who came back to Belmont from living and working in California, there is no reason to believe that the town can’t accommodate another drug store.
The storefront opened on Wednesday, May 20. The store is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
“It will take this a couple of months to get this going,” said Richard Simon, a pharmacist who will run the business side of the new store located at 246 Trapelo Rd.
“We’re getting a feel for the neighborhood and getting good feedback,” said Simon, who has been a pharmacist for more than 20 years, opening up the pharmacy services at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and working at an independent pharmacy in Brookline in the late 1990s.
With a third pharmacist in the fold, there is more than 70 years of experience in the store.
A past resident, Pavlan wanted an opportunity to come back to “the neighborhood,” and took up that opportunity when he saw the storefront location open up on busy Trapelo Road.
“The space was available and, yes, he saw how close he’d be to another pharmacy,” said Simon.
But what a competitor; CVS is second only to Walgreens as the largest pharmacy chain in the US with more than 7,600 stores. It sells in a few minutes what Belmont Pharmacy could hope to provide in a year.
What they may lack in bulk, the new store will make up in service, said Simon.
“We’re going to be offering a lot to the community,” Simon said, such as blood pressure that customers can show their physician, blister packing for older customers, and patient profiles in which patient drug information is printed out in a wallet-sized card “because a lot of people are unaware just what their medications are and can be used if they are hospitalized.”
“And we will have free delivery in Belmont and Watertown, and that will expand when we expand,” said Simon.
What Belmont Pharmacy will not do is follow the national pharmacy model of becoming “a convenience store.” Inside the store is a few rows of over-the-counter medicines, cold relief and remedies for minor injuries.
“We’re not selling frozen pizza, bottled water, summer beach chairs; that’s not who we are,” said Simon.
“We’re your pharmacist and we will look after you and your family.”
Simon said the store will be very competitive in pricing prescriptions with CVS.
“They get their drugs by the ton and we don’t. But their prices are set and we have the flexibility to set ours on need and demand,” he said.
The business has begun to canvas local doctors, the area hospitals including McLean and the town’s Board of Health and Council of Aging.
“There’s going to be outreach, but there has been a nice amount of groundswell of people coming in and saying, ‘We’re glad you’re here’,” said Simon.