New business born from Plan B controversy
JAMESTOWN – Philip Hall grew up in Jamestown. His parents did, too. And his parent’s parents. And a couple generations before that. So he’s quite familiar with the town’s historic, small-town charm. It’s a big reason why his new business, Hall Family Pharmacy, is catering specifically to traditional and conservative values.
You won’t find Plan B contraceptives, condoms or birth control on the shelves here. Hall Family Pharmacy, which opened April 1 near Jamestown Medical Center in Fentress County, is a bona-fide Christian, pro-life drug store, he says. He’s even expecting official certification to that effect from a pro-life pharmacy group, a stamp of approval that could be handed down as soon as this summer.
While Hall, a PharmD, isn’t exactly shouting that fact from the rooftops, it is a large part of his business model – and his business story. He left Walgreens, where he worked for six years, in 2013 after a public dispute over Plan B. Soon after, he decided to open his own shop. As he defines its mission, “things we don’t believe in, we don’t have to carry in our store.”
“We’ve not done things to try to build business off it, but if somebody comes in the store, we want them to know we’re a Christian pharmacy,” Hall said. “And we don’t have to tell them. They can tell by our actions.
“We’re a family business,” he added. “I wanted to do something that my kids could be invested in, that they could be proud of.”
While the stance is likely to turn heads – the group Pharmacists for Life International, for example, approached him about the pro-life pharmacy certification, only the ninth such certification nationwide, according to its website – business seems to be booming on its own.
In addition to Hall, the pharmacy was initially staffed with three pharmacy technicians. It only took a few weeks to add a fourth tech – and a fifth was expected at time of publication. Hall says he’s also looking to hire another pharmacist soon.
“Going on week number seven, we are at our projections set for like three years,” he said. “I’m just blown away. It’s been amazing. It’s a blessing.”
Aiming to offer an old-time pharmacy feel, Hall’s shop sells deli sandwiches and plans to add a soda fountain this fall. Gourmet cupcakes are available. As is home delivery for patients county-wide. For customers looking for 24-hour convenience, Hall offers on-call service after hours. He says he’ll soon be selling durable medical equipment, and quoting a 24-month projection, hopes to open a home infusion company to help treat those with acute and chronic health conditions.
“We knew going in, you cannot own a business and not be willing to work. Nobody is going to outwork us,” he said. “As our pharmacy grows, we’re able to expand our services.”
As for worries that independent pharmacies are on the decline, Hall says he’s not concerned. While there have been a number of mergers in the UC over the years – Walgreens bought out three local drug stores in Cookeville in 2011, and discounter Fred’s acquired two independent drug stores in Monterey a year later – Hall said there’s an upswing with local, small-town shops.
“If you go out and survey people in a community, the majority want to deal with a hometown business. That applies to more things than just a pharmacy,” Hall said. “We’re starting to see more independent pharmacies open throughout the state. We’re starting
to see a trend upward. People want to know who they are dealing with. They want to know their pharmacist. They want that relationship with you. They invest a lot of trust in their pharmacist.”
And that’s not a responsibility he takes lightly, he said. The pharmacy is working hand-in-hand with the Fentress County Drug Coalition to battle prescription drug abuse. He wants even more community buy-in as the business grows.
“We are completely starting at zero and building our way up. I’m really proud of that,” Hall said. “I think people admire that a little bit, too. We want public input. We want the public to feel vested. Because it’s a family business, and that’s what I want to stress.”