Judy Vandervest (from left), Carol Schumacher, owner Keith Witt and Linda Burie welcome customers to East Troy’s new Hometown Pharmacy. (Vanessa Lenz photo)

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent  

After going without one for more than seven months, East Troy residents again have an opportunity to visit a local pharmacy.

In late March, Aurora Health Care made the decision to close 11 of its 82 outpatient pharmacies. The East Troy location was included on the list.

But out of the ashes of Aurora Pharmacy has come a new, independently operated drug store at the same location, 3284 W. Main St. The store owner, Keith Witt, is in familiar territory, having served as head pharmacist of the former Aurora operation in town.

On Nov. 5, Witt resumed operations – this time, under the name East Troy Hometown Pharmacy.

Witt has linked up with the statewide Hometown Pharmacy organization, which operates as a partnership with nearly 20 independent pharmacy owners. While he has full, independent control over the East Troy store, Witt is privy to shared resources with other Hometown stores.

Aurora’s announcement this spring was abrupt and caught many people – including Witt – off guard. Ever since the doors were closed, Witt said he believed East Troy residents deserved a pharmacy in town, and he began to explore the prospect further in the ensuing months.

“It was something I had been toying with,” Witt said. “Part of the challenge was getting bankers on board with the idea. There are new regulations and new hoops to jump through. It’s not easy to get a loan these days for a small business.”

But with a little hard work and perseverance, Witt’s vision came to light and efforts to open the new pharmacy got under way.

While the East Troy Hometown Pharmacy has the same core mission as the former Aurora Pharmacy in town, Witt said there have been a number of changes – including the overall appearance of the store. As an independent operator, he has more flexibility with the store’s layout and full product line.

“We’re not just doing a copy of what was in here before,” he said. “There was a complete remodeling inside, and I moved the pharmacy to the front in an effort to accommodate some of our elderly customers.”

In keeping with the store’s name, Witt said he aims to have the new store reflect the values and tastes of local clientele – a scenario that was not always possible under the corporate Aurora ownership.

“We’re going to be expanding some of our over-the-counter medications and include homeopathic products,” he said. “In terms of gift items, I also want to sell products from local artisans. It’s a good way for me to support the community.”

Witt said he will be resuming home delivery for elderly customers – a service that was made available through Aurora.

For the foreseeable future, the East Troy Hometown Pharmacy will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. As the business gains a footing, Witt said he might potentially add hours to Sunday or make on-call hours available.

While there are variables, Witt said he intends to be competitive in pricing with mega chains Walgreens, CVS – and, yes, Aurora Pharmacy – with prescription pricing.

“Most insurance contracts are set up in such a way that the co-pay is the same, regardless of what pharmacy the person goes to,” Witt said. “I think that is a misperception out there.”

For more information, call (262) 642-3510.