As downtown businesses continue to struggle to find their footing in today’s economy, the fallout has real consequences that affect residents in and around small towns. Never was it more apparent in Berryville than when the pharmacy closed its doors. Randy Vinson owned and operated the Berryville Pharmacy for many years, but was faced with the difficult decision of continuing to fight in an anemic economy or to sell the business to a large chain competitor. On March 20, 2012 the store closed and accounts were taken over by CVS in Winchester, leaving the entire county without the benefit of a pharmacy.
That void seems to have caught the attention of several entrepreneurs as well as a group of town residents who all shared the goal of returning a pharmacy to Berryville. Mayor Wilson Kirby confirmed that town officials had met several times with an undisclosed individual who was very interested in opening a pharmacy in town. However, while those discussions were going on, another business owner stepped up to lease the space at 15A Crow Street to open Reed’s Pharmacy in Berryville.
Late Thursday afternoon landlord, Paul Jassal confirmed that Reed’s is planning to open their latest location in his Crow Street building and hopes to have the lease finalized with the new tenant shortly. Reed’s Pharmacy is an independent family business with locations in Berkeley Springs WV, Hedgesville WV, and Hancock MD. The Berryville location has a tentative opening date of July.
It is unclear what impact this development will have on the undisclosed business that had eyed the town for a potential pharmacy before Reed’s decided to open.
Meanwhile residents of Battlefield Estates have been working to woo Food Lion to expand their facility to include a pharmacy. The Battlefield Estates Civic Association (BECA) has contacted the corporate offices of Food Lion and requested they bring a pharmacy to the existing Berryville location, expanding the footprint of the store and returning this crucial service to the community in a convenient location.
BECA President Sharon Strickland said, “Recently, the officers of the Battlefield Estates Civic Association met to discuss what BECA’s Public Service Committee could do to help bring a pharmacy to the town and a decision was made to start a petition to the Food Lion Corporation to expand the current Berryville location and include a pharmacy similar to the Martin’s Food Store and Pharmacy in Winchester.”
The path to a sympathetic ear started in Berryille, wound through Philadelphia and eventually struck pay dirt in Richmond. “The Regional Manager [in Philadelphia] referred our Chair to the area location site company in Richmond, VA. The Richmond area manager then visited Berryville and was given all particulars. The response from Food Lion is that they will consider what the people want and what the town wants. The corporation is open minded to a meaningful discussion.”
The petition will provide proof of interest in the community. The group also hopes to gain support from local elected officials.
Berryville Mayor Wilson Kirby has advocated efforts to return a pharmacy to Berryville making it one of the goals of his recent reelection bid. He said he was pleased to hear news that Reed’s had selected Berryville as a new location. However, he added that he could not support the petition that BECA has started. “Now that a pharmacy is coming to Crow Street I can’t support a petition that would create competition among pharmacies in our town. It didn’t matter to me where the pharmacy was built but now that one is coming to Berryville we need to support them.”
BECA plans to continue the petition effort and is canvassing neighborhoods to rally support. “Anyone interested in signing the petition can contact me by phone at 540-955-4618 or email at email@example.com.” Ms. Strickland said.
Reed’s Pharmacy owner Kenneth Reed did not respond to inquiries regarding the new store in Berryville.