Oswald’s Pharmacy pivots with testing and more

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Friday, August 28, 2020

NAPERVILLE, Ill. – They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but Oswald’s Pharmacy has been learning new ones since 1875. Its newest trick? Covid-19 antibody testing. 

“I think what’s exciting about it is we’re able to turn on a dime and try something new because we’re just a single independent pharmacy and I think it’s an added benefit to the community,” said Alex Anderson, general manager and 6th generation family member. “Even people who haven’t been to our store before, who aren’t from our community, have traveled to come and get this test.” 

Many customers think they had the coronavirus, but they weren’t able to get tested because they weren’t high risk or their symptoms didn’t meet the criteria. 

In addition to a carefully curated gift and toy selection, the full-service pharmacy features a 5,000-square-foot medical equipment showroom. However, since the pandemic started it’s HME business virtually disappeared, down 80% in March and April. 

“Our DME delivery team turned into our personal shop and delivery team,” said Anderson. “So instead of taking calls about lift chairs, they’re taking calls about Tylenol and toothpaste.” 

The demand for home delivery has increased so much that the pharmacy had to hire a second delivery driver and does four routes a day, compared to one route previously. 

“Even our prescription deliveries went up and we introduced curbside pick up, so we keep the DME team busy, just not with medical equipment,” said Anderson. 

The key to Oswald’s longevity is diversification, says Anderson, and the ability to change. When his great-great grandfather sold the store to his son-in-law, he added a soda fountain. His son-in-law removed the fountain, tripled the size of the store and added cosmetics. The next generation phased out cosmetics and became one of the first computerized pharmacies. When Anderson’s father took over, he relocated and added 5,000 square feet of HME retail space. 

As for Anderson, who previously worked as a marketing and community relations specialist for Whole Foods Market, he overhauled the website and increased the store’s social media presence. He also works closely with buyers to bring in natural and organic products. 

“We’re finding ways to differentiate ourselves because when you walk in (to Oswald’s) it’s not a Walgreens and it’s not a CVS,” said Anderson.