What’s the Big Difference Between a “Big Box” Pharmacy and an Independent Pharmacy?

independent pharmacy in Arkansas

The difference between a chain and an independent pharmacy is bigger than square footage: the ownership, business model, and customer service all play a role, too.

Although you can fill your prescription at one of thousands of locations around the country, that is often where the medical conveniences end at a “big box” pharmacy. Your options are limited by business practices originating in corporate headquarters that are out of control of your local pharmacist. An independent pharmacy, however, is managed by people in your hometown who know that the difference between a chain and an independent pharmacy in Arkansas lies in the personalized services they offer to their customers every day.

Pharmacy Ownership

One of the big differences between a chain and an independent pharmacy is that an independent pharmacy is owned by a sole proprietor or a small group of people rather than being franchised. This means decision-making power rests with local people who actually work in the store and understand the local community. Because their business success is tied to the success of the pharmacy, owners work hard to ensure customers are happy and their store provides a wide range of services to meet local demands. As an independent pharmacy, Smith Caldwell Drug Store makes every effort to go above and beyond with customer service to ensure that every customer is satisfied.

Some people mistakenly assume that smaller ownership at an independent pharmacy means they have less favorable insurance policies or have limited generic medication options, but that is not true. Smith Caldwell Drug Store is actually contracted with most legitimate third party insurance plans. For example, big box stores recently terminated their contracts with certain prescription insurance plans without notice. This left many patients personally ousted by their big box pharmacies.

In our experience with these patients, as they transferred their prescriptions to our independent pharmacy, they were unaware personalized customer service still existed until they allowed us to care for them. If your coverage is limited or the prescription you need isn’t available, an independent pharmacist will provide you with more options and additional resources to meet your needs.

Business Model

Chain pharmacies are not nearly as often invested in the needs of local consumers, which is why they usually offer a more limited range of standard options when it comes to getting your prescriptions filled. These types of stores are standardized to be more a “one-stop shop” for common conditions and ailments. If you need a unique or highly-specialized prescription, for example, they are typically not available at a chain pharmacy. Your only option would then be to visit a compounding pharmacy that specializes in making custom prescriptions.

An independent pharmacy like Smith-Caldwell Drug Store can compound prescriptions right in the store. While independent pharmacies often have less stock on hand, Smith Caldwell is always fully stocked with hard-to-find drugs. We strive to stay ahead of market need and foresee any drug shortages on the horizon.

Pharmacy Services

Due to the mass of consumers they service, chain pharmacies are much less likely to offer many services in addition to prescription refills and consultation. But independent pharmacies like Smith-Caldwell also offer prescription delivery, vaccinations, health screenings, and other medical testing. These services also make an independent pharmacy an invaluable community health resource.

And who said a trip to the pharmacy can’t be a novel experience? Chain pharmacies are much less likely to have fully stocked coffee shops and delis, as well as specialty bridal and gift registries that include customizable gifts, dinnerware, stuffed animals and more. Just another of the many awesome aspects of a small independent pharmacy.

Visit Your Local Independent Pharmacy

Aside from offering the benefits of local ownership, personalized service, and convenient resources, Smith-Caldwell Drug Store also has a fully-stocked coffee shop and gift store. Our staff is there for our consumers through all of life’s events, providing endless expert medical knowledge and customer service. Contact our pharmacy at 501-392-5470 for information about vaccinations or prescriptions you need that you can’t find at the big box stores.