Hy-Vee purchases Choice Pharmacy

Hy-Vee purchases Choice Pharmacy
Officials with Hy-Vee Inc. announced Feb. 11 the purchase of Choice Pharmacy in Vermillion. The drug store will close on Sunday, Feb. 24 and its prescription files moved to the Vermillion Hy-Vee pharmacy.

Refills on those prescriptions will be available beginning Monday, Feb. 25.

Norm Kaufman, Choice Pharmacy owner, will stay on as an employee of Hy-Vee. It is hoped the store's other employees will join the Hy-Vee family as well.

Kaufman said he's confident that partnering with Hy-Vee will be a positive move both for him and his customers. "Teaming up with Hy-Vee will allow me much-needed time with my family," he said. "I'll have the time now to watch my children play basketball, which is something I've missed out on for too long."

As the drug store's owner, business manager and pharmacist, Kaufman worked 70 hours a week. Hy-Vee will now take on the administrative aspects of the business allowing Kaufman more one-on-one time with his patients as well as his family.

Kaufman said one of his concerns is time away from his family. "I do live quite a ways from here (Vermillion) and my family, but Hy-Vee has made it very comfortable through that transitional period to work with them during that time."

The sale, Kaufman said, will provide him a chance to seek otherventures.

"It's an opportunity for myself to do other things; it's an opportunity to spend more time with my family," he said. "Hy-Vee approached me and it just seemed like it was the time to do it."

Ron Avery, Vermillion Hy-Vee store director, said he is dedicated to making sure the Vermillion customers continue to receive the impeccable service they've become accustomed to.

"Customers will continue to receive the same personal care they expect," Avery said. "We don't want to (negatively) affect the customers of Choice, obviously, we want to provide them with the same health care that they've received at Choice Pharmacy for many years.

"Much of his (Kaufman's) staff will be employed at the Hy-Vee store, so the Choice customers can count on the same friendly faces giving the same good health care that they always have."

Avery said there are no immediate plans to expand the pharmacy area at the Vermillion Hy-Vee store.

"But we are hiring additional staff, obviously, to take care of the extra customers that we have," he said. "Steve (Heirigs), our pharmacy manager, has done a little remodeling within the department, but as far as expansion, no. We will have an expansion of employees, though."

Avery emphasized Monday that Choice customers may still pick up their prescriptions at Choice Pharmacy, located at 11 West Cherry Street, for the next two weeks.

"They still can come here to the Choice store, and pick up all of their prescriptions," he said. "Starting on Feb. 25, those prescriptions will be available at the Hy-Vee store.

The Choice store will remain open after Feb. 25, he added. "We will keep most of the inventory here, and have a close-out store with all of the merchandise here in the store."

Choice's inventory, includes home and office supplies, over-the-counter medications, and some food items.

Kaufman and Dennis Wollman became involved in the business when they purchased Lund Drug in 1987.

"In 1997, I bought him (Wollman) out, and went from Wollman Pharmacy to Choice Pharmacy," Kaufman said. "So I've been here a good 20-plus years."

Many improvements and new services were added to the store during that time.

"We always tried to do some different things to try to bring more clientele into the store and try to better serve our customers," Kaufman said. "Our photo center was progressive in town; we were the first one to have a photo center to provide one hour photographs. We've always tried to do something different and bring more things to our customers.

"Hopefully, this change will continue to bring more progression to the customers we've already served," he said.

Steve Heirigs, manager at the Vermillion Hy-Vee�pharmacy, said Choice Pharmacy customers will find the purchase to be beneficial.

"We feel that we will be able to provide them with better opportunities," he said. "We've got a drive-up, they can shop and get their groceries at the same time, and we still will have most of the Choice Pharmacy people working with us, so in some ways it will be just the same as it had been before.

"I think it is very important to continue jobs for many of these (Choice Pharmacy) people, and keep them employed in the city of Vermillion. "

Choice Pharmacy had been affiliated with Thrifty White Pharmacy as an independent retailer.

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