Woodard’s Pharmacy: A Fixture in Hertford
Editor’s note: The reporter is not related to any of the Woodards mentioned in this article.
In 1904, Dr. Smith opened the store that would later become the Woodard’s Pharmacy. In 1972, Charles Woodard bought the store and began operating his Drug Store that has lasted in the same location ever since. Along the way, other downtown stores have come and gone but Woodard’s is still here.
Back in those days there were no computers, just typewriters. So Mr. Woodard had to take a typing course. There was an online hook-up, which was the forerunner of the computer. Most people referred to their Pharmacist as “Doctor or Doc” because many drugs had to be made by hand from elements by their druggists. People sought information about over the counter medications and all sorts of medicines making the druggists a very special person in their physical treatments.
Back then Doctors made “House Calls” in person as well as office visits. Boy, how the medical profession has changed!!!
In the old days, there were only name brand drugs, before the advent of generics. In the early 1960s, generics entered the market, which now account for 75 to 80 percent of all prescriptions filled today. Even though generics have lowered the cost of prescription medications, many people still look to their pharmacist to explain the good and the bad qualities of generics.
Tylenol for example is a substitute for aspirin, which was produced by McNeil Laboratories. Now, however, they are out of business altogether as manufacturers of medications have gone through mergers and other consolidations over the years. So as the business of medications has undergone various changes, firms such as Woodard’s Pharmacy have had to undergo changes and adapt in order to survive.
In the “old days,” drug sales persons would call on the pharmacies to sell their products. And they still do but to a much lesser extent. Now, druggists like Charles Woodard belong to wholesale buying outlets like North Carolina Mutual Drug Co, in which he holds an ownership interest, similar to a Mutual Insurance Company. So he, in effect, is buying medications from himself.
Most people think that the profit for the drugstore is the co-pay. However, Mr. Woodard suggests that the profit margin is so low that it is very hard to make a profit on medications. The federal government dictates what the medications will cost, and as a result Woodard has little leeway in what he can charge. He has to sell other items in order to make an acceptable profit margin.
With the advent of the “big box” stores, such as Walgreens, neighborhood stores such as Woodard’s Pharmacy have had to survive by providing exceptional customer service. Woodard’s is well known for providing ice cream at a low cost compared to other stores in the area.
For example, a cone with one oversized scoop (equivalent to a two-scoop cone anywhere else) costs just 87 cents! The selection is not as wide as a traditional ice cream store, but they have several flavors and provide plenty of ice cream for the price!
Mr. Woodard says that he does not make too much, but he sells sandwiches and other fountain items, and the low cost ice cream keeps the customers coming in the door. Between the fountain, the sundries, over the counter medications and everything else, Woodard and his staff make enough to survive, while providing a valuable community service.
Mr. Woodard believes that he has several more years to go before he retires. He takes a day off here and there but does not take very many regular vacations. He has had a substitute druggist that helps out when he wants to get away, but arrangements need to be coordinated well ahead, sometimes as much as a year in advance. But in terms of succession, he has a daughter and a brother to take over if needed.
But the veteran pharmacist enjoys people and has no plans to retire. We think most people in Hertford believe that is a very good thing!