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Pharmacist goes independent in a corporate age

Pharmacy technician Ann Levandowski stocks medications at Albert’s Pharmacy at 201 S. Main Street in Pittston.

Joseph Albert opened Albert’s Pharmacy at 201 S. Main Street in Pittston on October 1.

PHOTOS BY BILL TARUTIS

Time was when an individual pharmacist could rent a storefront, hang out a shingle and make a living. In today’s corporate-dominated business world it would seem that time has passed.

But for Joseph Albert that time is now.

After 18 years working for major chains at two different locations on the Pittston By-Pass, Albert, a Pittston native and 1987 Pittston Area graduate, is bucking the corporate trend with his own independent Pharmacy at 201 South Main Street.

Asked why he struck out independently, Albert said opening his own pharmacy was a dream deferred.

“When I got out of school,” he said, “I had loans to pay. I had to take a job. I never stopped wanting to start my own business, but it was like I blinked and 20 years went by.”

He was encouraged by some of his old college buddies at Temple, from where he graduated in 1992, who had success independently. “After watching them the time seemed right,” he said. “I wasn’t getting any younger and I’m not afraid. It’s different when you can practice pharmacy the way you want, not the way a corporation wants.”

Albert’s Pharmacy had a soft opening in October, since then his business has grown incrementally, just the way he hoped it would. He said he is creating a pharmacy where customers will be known by name not by number. Many of his customers from the By-Pass stores have followed him and new ones from the neighborhood are coming in.

Albert said when he was getting his store, which he rents from Joe O’Malley, ready and before he opened, people would stop him on the street and say, “We can’t wait until you open.”

As an independent pharmacist he can offer customer service the major chains can’t match. He offers free delivery and has a drive through window where customers can talk to a pharmacist in the window, not a machine. At the same time Albert’s is high-tech with an automated phone ordering system and a computerized records system.

While Albert’s is independent, it is a Good Neighbor Pharmacy. That’s a network that helps independently owned and operated pharmacies compete with the pricing of chain stores.

Good Neighbor Pharmacies were rated the highest in customer satisfaction by a J. D. Power study in 2010 and 2011.

Albert’s is at 201 S. Main at the corner of Oak Street in what was years ago a Pizza Hut. Later a Medicap Pharmacy was in there. Then it sat vacant for several years ago until O’Malley bought it.

Albert’s is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is 299-5150. The website is albertspharmacy.com.

There is parking out front and in the back of the building.

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