- Associated Press - Monday, October 17, 2016

ANSONIA, Conn. (AP) - When Joan McNamara Radin started as an intern at Lear Pharmacy in the mid-1950s, she never expected to end up owning the business.

And this week, roughly 60 years after she began working for Fred Lear, Radin is doing something even more unexpected - celebrating the small business’ 100th anniversary.

She credits Lear’s longevity to the fact that people still like a personalized touch. “You go into the box store and you’re a number,” the 83-year-old pharmacist and city alderman said. “It gets so difficult for people to communicate. People come here just to talk sometimes. Maybe they have a little problem or maybe they just want to talk.”

For this reason, Radin keeps several chairs and a small bench set up close to the register. She said she treats customers like family after just a visit or two and misses that same kind of service in other aspects of the business.

“I used to be able to pick up the phone and call a doctor and he’d be able to talk,” she said. “There is nothing truly personal anymore.”

One of Radin’s biggest pet peeves is the way insurance companies now dictate many parts of her job.

“I did not get into this profession to satisfy the insurance companies,” she said. “If the doctor prescribes it I don’t know why the insurance company has to OK it. And they’re dictating what they expect of us. They’re forgetting we’ve got the education.”

Radin received her degree in the 1950s from the University of Connecticut. She was one of 10 women in a class of 55 students. Now, she notes, there are many more women pharmacists.

Although her daughter, Kathy Radin, is not a pharmacist, she is just as involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Kathy Radin, who has a degree in accounting, said she spent most of her youth in the pharmacy and now her teenage son is also growing up there.

She said it’s their customers’ loyalty to the small business that has kept it going this long. “We’re very blessed to have loyal, regular customers,” she said.

Joan Radin said she has seen her own customers grow up, and now their children or grandchildren come into the pharmacy.

Kathy Radin said they’ve had to get creative to keep sales up. “We’re trying to increase our business by offering things that aren’t found everywhere,” she said, pointing to the assortment of compression stocking options on the shelves. “We try to have a niche to stay in business and keep our customers happy.”

Kathy Radin said it’s not unusual for the women to call up a customer to let them know a medication is now available, and even to stay a few minutes later to make sure the person gets it.

They recently started offering free delivery several days a week, a service they had to discontinue years ago. And they offer free gift wrapping year-round, with wrapping paper that matches the holiday or season.

Joan Radin said she remembers Fred Lear often turned down advances from large pharmacy chains to sell the business. She said she has done the same over the years.

“The only way you’re going to have me out of here is feet first,” she said.


Information from: Connecticut Post, https://www.connpost.com

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