Neuhauser Pharmacy
Madison, WI

6 - Neuhauser Pharmacy - PH

Neuhauser Pharmacy Thrives in a Neighborhood Where Small Businesses are Valued and Appreciated

Since 1914, Neuhauser Pharmacy, a drug store on the corner of Monroe and Harrison Streets in Madison, Wisconsin has been a fixture in the Monroe Street business district, where small businesses receive an enormous amount of support. IPC recently spoke with pharmacy owner Peg Breuer Beckman.
IPC:

Can you tell me about your history as a pharmacist?

Peg:

“I decided I wanted to be a pharmacist back in middle school, I thought that it would be a good profession. I saw an article in a magazine about how it was a profession that highlighted chemistry and math, which were both subjects I enjoyed, so I decided that’s what I wanted to pursue. I went to UW La Crosse for a few years for pre-pharmacy courses. I thought that was a good middle step for me because I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and wasn’t quite ready to go to a larger campus like UW Madison. I grew up on a farm with a very rural Wisconsin upbringing. I grew up in a big family, I was the sixth child in a family of seven kids. That really helped develop my work ethic; working on a farm and being one of many children. Also, my dad always talked about being his own boss and how much he enjoyed it – that really resonated with me and I knew I wanted to get into a career where I would be my own boss.

I got into pharmacy school after two years of pre-pharmacy. I went to UW Madison for pharmacy school for three years, graduated and then moved into internship. I enjoyed my time at the UW Madison, I was in the marching band and was able to travel. I met my husband through the marching band. I interned in Heartland at an independent pharmacy, then came back to Madison and worked for a couple of years at another independent. I interviewed with Jim Neuhauser and he was looking to hire his first full-time pharmacist. He had gotten by with part-time employees but was looking to move forward and hire someone full-time. One of his questions when he interviewed me was ‘are you interested in owning your own pharmacy?’ He was looking for a succession plan even though he wasn’t that old or close to retirement. He was actually one of the founders of IPC, when it was Badger State. Of course I got very involved with IPC from the get-go. I eventually bought out his pharmacy over the course of a few years. It was very financially doable for me and he worked with me even after he had sold-out. He worked till he retired in 2007. The transition was very smooth.”

IPC:

What is the surrounding community/neighborhood like?

Peg:

“We are in a fantastic location; we truly are a corner drug store. There are a lot of independent retailers nearby. Trader Joe’s is across the street and they pull in a lot of people from near and far. They are great neighbors to have. We are close to the University (UW Madison), it’s a great neighborhood that is always growing but we still have a lot of longtime customers.

There aren’t a lot of chains nearby, there are a few but the community surrounding us really appreciates small business.”

IPC:

Is it mostly prescriptions that you provide? Is there a large front-end section?

Peg:

“Ninety percent of the business is prescriptions but we do have a small front-end. We don’t have medical equipment but we do sell some Medicare B type supplies. We don’t have a lot of room so I have to make choices based on that. We have about 1,300 square feet with storage in the basement. We did do a huge remodel of the store 11 years ago, to move the pharmacy closer to the front of the store (it’s now on the side, it used to be in the back) and increase the square footage for other items. We stayed open through the remodel. The contractor had done pharmacy remodels before so he knew how to do things while keeping us up and running. It was a little hectic but in the long run was very worthwhile.

The building is the oldest running pharmacy space in Madison, WI. The building was finished in 1914 and has been a pharmacy over since, so over 100 years now. We did a display in our front window celebrating 100 years and the neighborhood was really responsive. We got a lot of press, the WI state journal did an article and our employees really got involved.”

IPC:

Any other special services you’d like to highlight?

Peg:

“We do have a US post office substation, which brings people in especially during the holidays. It’s very well received by the neighborhood. We’ve only done flu vaccines in the past but my daughter is very close to being a registered pharmacist and is really excited about moving forward with shingles and pneumonia vaccines. She also wants to increase the vaccine options; it should be a great opportunity for us. We do some med tray delivery service. We work with people when they need extra help, and we try to accommodate all of our patients. We have a great reputation for working with people to get what they need. If there is a specific request for a product we will do what we can to get it available to them.

Just last night I took a delivery out. We have a huge construction project happening on our street so we are currently offering free delivery during the construction, which has gotten us some increased business. It’s more difficult to get here currently so we are willing to go the extra mile to make it easier for the patients.

I have four of my employees that walk to work and live in the neighborhood. They know the members of the community and they have been here for a long time. I don’t have to hire a lot, my employees stay and that says a lot about their loyalty, happiness and commitment to the pharmacy.”

IPC:

What are some of the challenges?

Peg:

“As always, with the whole DIR fees and Medicare D issues – finding opportunities to make money or make up the money you might be losing to bad reimbursements. I know everybody in this profession is in the same boat, fighting the same battle. You really do have to find places to modify. Even with staffing, it’s been a matter of not staffing as much or finding ways to better utilize paid hours. We’ve just started selling CBD oil, legal hemp oil. It’s something that seems to be a hot item so we had to look into it, research it and provide it to the customers who are asking for it. Same with the vaccines, we want to provide things to our customers and find opportunities to tap into new products. New ideas and thinking outside the box can really help us out in the long run.”

IPC:

How has your relationship been with IPC?

Peg:

“I’ve been to at least four of your conferences, they are always a great time and we are treated so well. The locations are amazing and IPC puts on a great event every time. The other great thing is getting the opportunity to speak with other people who are in the same boat. It’s interesting to hear others ideas and strategies. From state to state, business ownership is different so it’s an amazing opportunity to compare stories and ideas. It’s very rejuvenating and it’s also a great getaway.

I remember going to meetings at the very beginning of IPC and also the first annual meetings; I don’t know where I’d be without this type of organization. I’ve had other wholesalers come in and talk about switching but I am so committed to IPC, I can’t imagine going outside of the relationship. I’ve been with IPC for over 30 years and can’t imagine leaving.”