May Pharmacy Profile:
Corner Drug Company (Woodland, California)

Bolstered by its IPC membership, representative Corner Drug Company prospers in downtown Woodland.

Across America, many community pharmacies play integral role in their communities. This is especially the case at Corner Drug Company, which truly represents the feel of downtown Woodland, California, and has done so for almost 120 years. Owner Lisa Shelley, along with her husband and manager Edward Shelley, are the latest custodians of the historic store, which is enjoying a revival right alongside its community.
IPC:

What are some the benefits for Corner Drug Company being a member of IPC?

Lisa:

“IPC puts our store in a position to get better pricing which in today’s challenging business environment is more important than ever. So to have that bargaining power in a group like IPC to try to get a better deal for ourselves, I don’t know where we’d be without it.”

IPC:

What did you think of the recent 2014 IPC Member Conference?

Lisa:

“We actually travelled down to Scottsdale a couple of days early and went to a spring training baseball game before the conference. Overall, we really enjoyed the conference, even more than usual. I especially appreciated (IPC Sr. V.P. of Government Relations) Mark Kinney’s talk, who mentioned that it is the first time in years that he’s had good news to share about independent pharmacy. I’ve been here since 1979, and we’ve been hearing the same message about how PBMs and insurance companies are going to put us out of business. But we must be doing something right, because we’re still going strong and were able to attend such a great conference.”

IPC:

How has IPC’s Government Relations efforts supported Corner Drug Company?

Lisa:

“Anything IPC can do to try to get legislators to understand some of the politics and things that are going on, really helps, especially with all of the PBMs consolidating. There is huge consolidation in the pharmacy industry right now, and it’s not just in that industry. There’s room for everybody in the marketplace, community pharmacies (included).”

IPC:

How has IPC improved Corner Drug Company’s bottom line through programs like rebates?

Lisa:

“The rebates, obviously, mean a lot to Corner Drug Company. But just going to IPC Conferences is always helpful. There we learn about things like what the DEA is up to and different ways to go with our business, like with a 340B program or a MTM program. The IPC Conference makes us aware with what is going politically, such as the star rating program that they are starting to have with the insurance companies.”

Ed:

“We have a really good (rapport) with IPC’s sales staff. Joe Herman, our IPC Regional Sales Representative, has been coming to this store for probably 40 years, or at least as long as Lisa and I have been here. He’s been great to work with all of those years.”

IPC:

Would you like to share any good experiences at the IPC Trade Show?

Lisa:

“We haven’t started it yet, but we just signed up for a program from one of the vendors there at the conference, Prescribe Wellness. This program offers an automated way to let people know that their prescriptions are ready and provides outreach to our patients. Now we don’t have to spend our staff time doing that. Instead, we can spend it on counseling our patients which is much more beneficial for them and us.”

IPC:

How is Corner Drug Company representative of Woodland, California?

Ed:

“Our store is really a symbol of Woodland and the downtown community. In fact, if you open up the Wikipedia page referring to the city, our store is featured on the image of town. We’ve always been very a downtown store, right in the city’s political hub. We have City Hall just a half-a-block away, the Chamber of Commerce not too far away and a big county building nearby. It’s interesting just to be a part of the greater community. When Lisa goes to the grocery store, people say hello, but they also might ask her a drug question. She always tries to help them, so she’s a pharmacist 24/7 here in Woodland. That’s something that really means a lot to this community, to have someone that has a face out there who is there for our patients and the community as a whole.”

Lisa:

“It’s almost like this place has a life of its own and we are just taking care of it. We are in the old part of downtown, where there are a lot of older Victorian homes that have been preserved, and a lot of the store fronts have been preserved, including ours. It’s a kind of an old fashioned feel. We technically do not have a state highway running through Main Street, but it still looks that way. More and more people are coming back to the downtown area because they like the personal service at the community stores. Here at Corner Drug Company we have lot of patients that their grandparents or parents were patients here. They want to know the people they’re dealing with.”

IPC:

How is Corner Drug Company active in downtown events?

Lisa:

“The downtown group as a whole has been active in trying to get people to come here. The first Friday night activity for our store started with art, but people weren’t that excited about it, so we thought we would try to have music. We had a base player and a guitar player, and it drew a lot of people. Many of the businesses, like ours aren’t open on Sundays, but now the first Sunday of the month, there is a gourmet food event. The one in April brought 3-4,000 people downtown, which for a town of our size is kind of a miracle. So we had the store open that day. As far as the dollars it might not be worth it, but it’s just letting people know we are there.”

IPC:

Can you take us through the long history of the store?

Lisa:

“Corner Drug Store has been here since 1897 in the same building. It was incorporated on February 2, 1934 and it was the first Walgreens Agency in California, back when they had franchise agencies. My dad, Karl Hanke, started working here in 1942 as a delivery person on a bike. He became a partner in 1959, and then bought his partner completely out in 1980 and became the sole owner. My mom worked here as a sales clerk, so that’s how they met.

I’m one of four kids. I went to pharmacy school at the University of Pacific (in Stockton) and got out in 1979. I wasn’t going to work here, but decided to come back and then I bought my dad out in 1999. He continued to work at the store (about two days a month) until he was about 82.

My husband and I have run it now for a number of years, taking care of the front-end, the political side, doing the advertising and the purchasing. Our oldest daughter Sara went to pharmacy school, and she graduated in 2008. She wasn’t going to work here either, but she’s now working at the store. Our youngest daughter Kristina has taken over what Ed is doing as far as marketing and advertising, only now it is things like Facebook.”

IPC:

What are some of Corner Drug Company’s specialty services?

Lisa:

“We’ve always delivered, and charge a token dollar for that. We take back drugs, and we also educate people on how they can get rid of them themselves and where they can go with their unwanted drugs. We volunteered Sara to help with the city’s DEA Take-Back event, because they need someone to check out all the drugs, especially the controlled substances. We do a lot of hand bubble packing for people. We have a lot of patients that are mentally ill, and the county mental-health department sends us patients and they want them to just get a week at a time, to make sure that they are not taking too much or too little. We do free gift wrap here at the store. We are in the process of hiring a pharmacy student, who worked here as a technician. So she’s doing a lot of MTMs. We are trying to setup an injection program and other things that make us more valuable to insurance companies and doctors.”

IPC:

Edward was lucky enough to win IPC’s recent Tweet-a-Thon at the 2014 IPC Member Conference. What benefits have you seen with utilizing social media in marketing Corner Drug Company?

Ed:

“The IPC Member Conference was actually my first attempt at tweeting. I think it is going to be a good thing for me in the future, getting together with some of my business associates via Twitter. I’ll be excited to see how that works out for our store, tweeting, retweeting valuable information to our customers, and information that IPC is providing on its page. That could be (a nice compliment) to what we are already doing on our Facebook page.”

Location snapshot:
Corner Drug Company is located at the corner of 1st and Main St., in the center of Woodland, California. According to the 2010 census, the Central California community, which is 15 miles northwest of Sacramento, has a population of 55,468.