Everybody wants to support their local retail merchant, but given the chance to save a few bucks most still gravitate to the lowest bidder. One industry whose prices are basically fixed ((due to insurance, medicare, and medicaid)) is prescription drugs. Nevertheless there’s a misconception that the chains offer lower prices than independents. Furthermore, with the exception of some loss-leaders, many non-prescription items are actually more expensive than their local peers, CVS and Rite Aid are no bargains. Given this background and several favorable anecdotes and endorsements by residents, I decided to profile the two independent pharmacies in Hunters Point.
Joshua Schipper started working as a stock boy in a pharmacy when he was 11 years old. After getting his degree he was working in a pharmacy in East New York when an acquaintance who was opening a medical center in Long Island City thought there might be an opportunity for a new pharmacy in proximity to help them service their patients. That was in 1986, and while the medical center and all the doctors that came with it are no longer in the neighborhood, Vernon Blvd Pharmacy at 48-15 Vernon Boulevard still is. Obviously a lot has changed in the ensuing decades, before TF Avalon there were factories on the waterfront and their workers were regulars. Plus as the only game in town, long time residents gravitated to his storefront, aka Josh’s pharmacy – which is now the longest-remaining retail shop on Vernon – and Josh knows all their names, and their medical histories. Which is one of the main draws of using an independent pharmacy. Continuing on with the tradition, Josh’s son Jeremy now works as a pharmacist with his dad.
More recently, or to be exact three years ago, Nature’s Prescriptions opened at 5-29 50th Avenue. The owner, Arthur Mullakandov, who previously was working in Forest Hills, recognized the tremendous growth in Long Island City and given the up and coming demographics thought there was an opportunity for a more modern take on the traditional pharmacy. In addition to filling prescriptions, his store has an extensive assortment of organic and homeopathic drugs and bath&beauty products. It also has a decent-size toy section, where I saw a few little ones milling about while their parents picked up their orders and which is probably a good place to pick up that last minute birthday gift. Keeping it a family affair Arthur’s wife Maya works alongside him.
Both of these stores offer free delivery, all you need to do is call it in. More importantly they both offer personal service you can’t quite get from a chain: they’ll talk with your doctors, keep in touch, and know your prescriptions. Ceteris paribus, why wouldn’t you make the change?
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