Personal Attention: Lakewood Apothecary Shifts Focus In Business
LAKEWOOD — Lakewood Apothecary, a staple in the village for the last 15 years, has shifted its business focus.
Jim Rovegno, owner of Lakewood Apothecary, came up with the idea of a business that combined traditional, prescription medicine with other natural, herbal and homeopathic forms.
“We decided to create something that would definitely different in the region,” Rovegno said, “and that has proven to be true. (We) help people understand that there are different ways to manage your health care, and it’s not always … traditional medicine. It (traditional medicine) is necessary … but I do think people are looking for options.”
Before the shift in business focus, customers at Lakewood Apothecary could fill their prescriptions and simultaneously receive guidance on other herbs, vitamins, minerals, and various forms of homeopathy.
“What we provided different was a better experience for people,” Rovegno said. “(A) small town, small, independent pharmacy (provides) a little more personal attention to their needs, and people loved it.”
However, Rovegno, whose been filling prescriptions since the 1970s, has noticed changes in the pharmaceutical business that negatively affect small pharmacies like Lakewood Apothecary. An obvious example of this, Rovegno pointed out, is the dwindling numbers of independent pharmacies in the area.
“In the last two-and-a-half or three years, just about everybody is gone,” Rovegno said. “There’s a couple left. Little ones in the county in Sherman or Fredonia, but that’s pretty much it.”
“We’re kind of the last ones hanging on.”
The combination of the decline in pharmaceutical reimbursements and the trend of some insurance companies – particularly pharmacy benefit managers – not allowing small pharmacies to fill prescriptions have made it difficult for small, independent pharmacies to grow and thrive.
“Just this year … we’ve been taken out of some of the programs,” Rovegno said. “In other words, we can’t fill your prescription because we’re not a preferred provider for your insurance.”
These factors contributed to both a loss in profits as well as the decline in the overall quantity of prescriptions that Lakewood Apothecary was filling. Rovegno points to the other side of Lakewood Apothecary, the side that focuses on homeopathy, herbals, and nutritional supplements, as the reason his business has been able to survive.
This is what led Rovegno to ultimately discontinue the prescription department of his business about a month ago. Now the focus is retail-based, emphasizing the growth of the natural and homeopathic aspect of his business that has been a staple since opening fifteen years ago.
“I had a doctor friend I was talking to,” Rovegno said. “She said sometimes when you have a body that has an illness, you have to carve out the illness to let the rest of the body grow.”
In the case of Lakewood Apothecary, the illness hindering the growth of the business was the prescription-filling side of things.
“We could carve out that piece that was hurting us, and keep the rest,” Rovegno said.
Lakewood Apothecary has a strong following for its homeopathic and natural supplements. By getting rid of the part of the business that had been hurting Lakewood Apothecary, Rovegno can still serve his loyal customers, keep his staff employed, take control over the future of his business and ultimately continue to operate.
“I didn’t go into business … to have somebody take it away from me when I have no control over what’s happening,” Rovegno said, alluding to the developments in the pharmaceutial business that have hurt Apothecary in the last few years. “That’s the idea of owning your own business – you’re supposed to have some control.”
Although some customers are upset about the elimination of the prescription-filling aspect of Lakewood Apothecary, many customers are understanding.
“I knew we’d have people that were upset – and we do,” Rovegno said. “But most people have been very good and understanding, not happy but understanding, and they’re still glad we’re here because we provide them with other options as far as their healthcare is concerned.”
Rovegno is optimistic as to what the future looks like for Lakewood Apothecary.
“Now that we’ve got that thing off our back, we can go forward with new things,” Rovegno said. “In this area, one of the things that we feel we bring is the best source of nutrition, homeopathy, herbals, and other areas we feel we’re strong in.”
The message Rovegno wants the community to know is that Lakewood Apothecary is still present, and largely doing the same things they’ve been doing.
“We’re here, we want people to know we’re still here, that we’re going to keep growing and we are going to constantly be bringing new things to the marketplace,” Rovegno said. “We’ve done it (natural and homeopathic health options) already, but all we’re going to do is put more emphasis on what we do. We want to grow the business with more options for people, and I’m excited.”