In a world increasingly dominated by titans like CVS and Walgreens, is there still room for an independent pharmacy? Andy Delillo certainly thinks so, having recently opened Main Street Rx, “a hometown-themed pharmacy” in Newtown’s Plaza South Shopping Center at 266 S. Main St.
“We’re willing to fight them in this area,” Delillo declared, saying that the town’s general eschewal of big-box stores proves that it prefers supporting independent companies when it can.
Nevertheless, the proximity of the pharmacies at the Stop & Shop, practically within walking distance at 228 S. Main; Walgreens, less than three miles away at 49 S. Main; and the CVS at 6 Queen St. means that Main Street Rx will have its work cut out for it.
Delillo — who with his wife Diane, son A.J. and daughter-in-law Stevie Schenk are all involved with operating the 2,600-square-foot store — said that friendly customer service and involvement with local merchants and causes will help Main Street Rx distinguish itself from its behemoth brethren.
Monroe-based Wood Market built the store’s wooden shelves and cabinets — adding the “small town” touch by avoiding the usual glass showcases. And shelf space is set aside for honey, soap and candles from Sporthill Honey Farm of Redding.
Mass market candy, chips, soda and the like won’t be found at Main Street Rx, Delillo said.: “We’ll leave that to Walgreens. We want to keep what we sell as local as possible.”
An unusual feature of its approach to customer service is its free delivery throughout the state. With just one driver on hand, Delillo admitted that accomplishing such deliveries in a timely manner will be a tall order, but said he believes it will become cost-effective as Main Street Rx’s customer base grows.
Involvement with Newtown’s Chamber of Commerce, volunteering as the first aid provider at the recent Newtown Arts Festival and hosting a free Narcan and anti-drug-abuse awareness event at the plaza are all helping to spread the word, Delillo said, adding that his son hosts a car show each Wednesday in the plaza’s parking lot.
The Newtown resident’s career started at his father’s construction business on Long Island, after which he moved to Las Vegas in the mid-1990s. There he worked with his brother building home pools as part of a subcontracting agreement with Toll Brothers. But by 2006 the bottom fell out of the Las Vegas market and he moved to Florida, where he ran a diabetic call center, working with the medical community and pharmacies in the area.
Hooking up with health and wellness website Everyday Health led to the growth of his database by of some 8,000 names per day. But simply providing names to area pharmacies led to his “eureka moment,” Delillo said.
“They were making all the money, and I was doing all the work.” That drove him to start HSUS Pharmacy in Boca Raton, where he still maintains a second home.
That facility, which includes a call center for both it and Main Street Rx, is similar in scope to the Newtown venture, though he employs seven drivers there to cover the considerably larger state. HSUS just reopened in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Delillo said damage was thankfully minimal, though power was out for a couple of weeks.
Having already amassed about 100 customers in just one month of business in Newtown, Delillo said that he’s open to possibly opening additional pharmacies in Connecticut, “obviously depending on how things go.”
He said that he also has an eye on moving to the vacant Union Savings Bank building at the plaza, although the bank is still paying rent for the next several months.
“This is a great area,” he said of Fairfield County and Newtown in particular. “The people are friendly and I’m confident that we can compete here.”
Even the absence of a drive-through window — Newtown generally forbids such features, with the exception of some banks and the CVS — isn’t necessarily a negative, he said.
“We can go out to a customer in the parking lot and give them what they’ve ordered,” he said. “And besides, a drive-through window is kind of at odds with the image we have.”