May 22, 2018
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Maine retail drug chain steps in to preserve Waldoboro’s century-long history of having a pharmacy

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

WALDOBORO, Maine — A century-long run of having a downtown pharmacy in Waldoboro will continue after a Maine retail pharmacy chain announced Wednesday it will open a store here.

Community Pharmacies, which already operates 10 pharmacies in Maine, will begin operations in Waldoboro in early January, said company President and CEO Joe Bruno. Town residents and officials feared they would be without a local pharmacy after Waltz Pharmacy closed its Waldoboro location earlier this month. The closure marked an end to Waltz’s decades-long involvement in the retail business.

Bruno said conversations with the town started shortly after the Waltz announcement and that Waldoboro is similar in many ways to some of the other towns Community Pharmacies already serves. The chain operates in Blue Hill, Bucksport, Corinth, Cornish, Dexter, Gorham, Newport, Pittsfield, Randolph and Saco.

“We felt this would be a great fit for our company,” said Bruno on Wednesday. “We like rural locations and being the only pharmacy in town. There’s a revitalization plan going on in Waldoboro, which is interesting to us. We want to be a part of that community.”

Rite Aid, which bought the Waltz pharmacy inventory and patient records, indicated in November that it would make deliveries to the Waldoboro region while serving customers from its Damariscotta location.

But Bruno said he hopes many local residents will make the transition to the new store. He said one of the chain’s existing pharmacists, Brandon Archibald, will move from the Gorham location to Waldoboro and that Theodore Wooster, whose family operated the pharmacy in Waldoboro from 1951 until it was sold to the Waltz chain, will be a part-time pharmacist. The storefront in question, at 5 Friendship Street, has housed a pharmacy for about 110 years.

Bruno said all Waltz’s other Waldoboro employees were interviewed Wednesday, and that he expected “most of them” to be rehired.

“There will be a lot of familiar faces at the new store,” he said.

Bill Najpauer, Waldoboro’s director of planning and development, launched an effort to find a new pharmacy operator for the town shortly after the announcement that Waltz had sold out to Rite Aid in November. That sale meant Waldoboro residents would have to travel out of town for their prescriptions.

“The community response to this has been very positive, obviously,” said Najpauer. “That store draws people into our downtown. Having that vacant, we just couldn’t let that stand.”

Najpauer said about 5,100 people are living in Waldoboro, with about 21,000 people in the immediate area.

“That’s pretty good, at least by Maine standards,” he said.

Bruno said his company’s 11 locations give it favorable buying power. His company’s sole focus is retail, said Bruno, who has 40 years’ experience working in retail pharmacies.

“I know what it takes to keep people happy and how to have a low turnover among employees,” said Bruno. “Whatever our customers need, we’ll have it in the store or we’ll get it the next day.”

Bruno said he hopes to open the new store, which will include an inventory similar to most pharmacies, by Jan. 7 or shortly thereafter.

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