Johnson Pharmacy of Merrill opened for business in March at 1021 E. Main St., the same location where Johnson has been serving customers since 2002.
Owner/pharmacist Robbie Johnson has 40 years of pharmacy experience in Merrill. He said old customers have returned, along with new ones.
Robbie owned and operated Johnson Pharmacy from 1985-2003. He sold the business to Aurora Health Care Initiative in 2003, staying on to serve as chief pharmacist.
When Aurora announced it would be selling its northern Wisconsin pharmacies in 2009, Hometown Pharmacy took over operation of the pharmacy. The change was made quickly to ensure the pharmacy would remain in operation downtown and the employees would keep their jobs. Now that Hometown Pharmacy recently moved to a new location in Merrill, Johnson has reopened the Main Street storefront as an independent community pharmacy.
Robbie said that, after Hometown Pharmacy announced it would be moving, there was really never any question that Johnson Pharmacy would reopen as an independent business.
The pharmacy and all its fixtures remained intact, but all the necessary licenses had to be applied for, a computer system was established and the shelves were stocked.
A Merrill native, Robbie has been working in Merrill pharmacies since he was in high school. After graduating from pharmacy school at Madison in 1972, Robbie returned to his hometown and served as a pharmacist at Nelson Rexall Pharmacy until going out on his own in 1985.
Robbie and his wife, Trina, who operates their Johnson Gifts & Home Decor business adjacent to the pharmacy, are deeply committed to downtown Merrill. They were instrumental in the founding of Discover Downtown Merrill, an organization dedicated to promoting the downtown. Keeping a pharmacy open on Main Street is important to them for the customer traffic it draws to downtown, Trina said.
In addition to meeting traditional prescription needs, Johnson Pharmacy offers over the counter medications, durable medical equipment, immunizations, unit dosing, medication therapy management, delivery and compounded medications.
That last service has been Robbie’s niche for many years. He has been a member of the Professional Compounding Centers of America since 1987 and the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists. Robbie’s skills in formulating compounded medications allow him to provide for patients with needs that standard manufactured medications cannot meet.
The new Johnson Pharmacy will employ 6-8 people in the first year and the Johnson’s hope to see that number grow to 10-12 within three years.