Buena Vista Drug
Buena Vista, Colorado

6 - Buena Vista Drug - PH

Celebrating a 50th Anniversary in August!

Buena Vista Drug has been serving Buena Vista and the surrounding communities for 50 years. They are the only independent, privately owned, full-service pharmacy in Chaffee County. Buena Vista Drug is committed to providing customers with services that are customized to meet their needs. Whether it’s prescription medications or over the counter products, their staff is dedicated and thoroughly trained to answer any and all questions. Buena Vista Drug offers personalized compounded medications, vaccinations, medication synchronization, oral contraceptive consultation, assistance with smoking cessation, medication/supplement consultations, home or office delivery, and more.

IPC:

How did you get involved with Buena Vista Drugs and started in the pharmacy profession?

Lucas:

“Buena Vista Drug has been in this building for 50 years, I’m the third owner of the business. When the second owner was ready to sell and retire he was having a hard time finding a buyer and was considering selling to a chain. At that time a group of independent pharmacy owners in Colorado formed an investment group to try and create a model where they could transition pharmacies that were selling into new independent ownership. They bought the pharmacy in November of 2013.

I started working right after I graduated in May of 2014. The original plan was for me to work for a year, get experience in independent pharmacy and make sure I liked it and then go into a junior partnership transition model for the next five years (buying 10 percent every year), at which point I would have 50% ownership and could buy out the business if I wanted to. I ended up completing the transition at the end of year three, so August 2017 I became the owner.

The main reason I had this opportunity is because during school I really started networking with independent pharmacy and had the opportunity to work with Grant Kinn who was at the time the executive director of RxPlus. I had learned from a lot of independent pharmacists and they kept me in mind when they were looking for someone to hire. I also did the business plan competition for NCPA and was the president of our NCPA student chapter, so I had the chance to learn a lot about independent pharmacy in school.

I enjoy helping people and I also enjoy science, so pharmacy seemed like a natural fit for me. Once I got into pharmacy I realized there were a lot of different opportunities. A lot of schools focus on clinical, hospitals, chains, etc. I had to work hard to learn about the business side outside of the traditional curriculum. At the time when I was in school the business course was an elective.”

IPC:

The Pharmacy is celebrating a 50th anniversary this summer, can you tell me more about that?

Lucas:

“Yes, we’ve been in this building for 50 years. The original owner’s wife is still in the area and the second owner still comes around, we have pictures of the whole group on facebook. For the anniversary we are doing a huge celebration with a kids coloring contest, where the winner receives a copy of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. We are also doing several other promotions and having a big party.”

IPC:

What’s the community like in the surrounding area?

Lucas:

“We are the only independent pharmacy in about 120 miles. The population of Buena Vista is currently 3,000. It increases in the summer with tourism. The only other pharmacy in Buena Vista is part of a chain. 30 miles south of us there is a community about double the size of Buena Vista and there are no independents there currently, but we are opening up one soon. It’s going to be very exciting because we’ll have an old school style soda fountain and ice cream counter in the front with the pharmacy in the back.”

IPC:

What would you say the biggest rewards are related to independent pharmacy?

Lucas:

“Being able to care for the patients the way you want to and offer the services that you want to. We have some unique services now that we offer that providers have requested. We have blankets for babies that are born with jaundice, it helps remove all the bilirubin – it’s a fiberoptic pad that parents can swaddle the baby with, so the family can go home from the hospital and still treat the jaundice properly. We also have oxygen concentrators which is something a nearby doctor requested. It’s great to be able to fulfill the needs of the community quickly and efficiently.”

IPC:

What would you say is your biggest challenge as an independent pharmacist?

Lucas:

“The biggest challenge is the PBMs, DIR fees, lack of transparency and reimbursement. We’re finding other ways to make income in order to keep things going. We currently are doing stress testing, diabetic education, etc.”

IPC:

Do you have an OTC section?

Lucas:

“We do, the whole store is 4,000 square feet and only 1,000 of that is pharmacy. We have a gift and souvenir area, greeting cards, kids’ toys, and OTC items. We also rent and sell knee scooters, walkers, wheelchairs and things like that.”

IPC:

Anything else about your store you’d like to highlight?

Lucas:

“I’m proud of the fact that the store has been here for so many years. We’ve had three owners and there’s been a lot of stability. We can really cater our offerings and services to the community and provide them what they need.

We also do a lot of vaccinations, including flu clinics and services for surrounding businesses. This past year we did 1,200 vaccines, including about 800 influenza vaccines.”

IPC:

How has your relationship been with IPC?

Lucas:

“IPC helps us out a lot, I know there are a lot of legislative efforts. Grant Kinn is there and helping with transitions into independent pharmacy so that’s very helpful as well. He connects students with businesses and keeps pharmacy students informed about independent pharmacy. I had such a benefit from learning from pharmacy owners when I was in school so I know how important that is.”