Johnson Pharmacy to reopen on Main Street
Merrill pharmacist Robbie Johnson is excited to be going back into business for himself. Johnson Pharmacy of Merrill will open for business in March at 1021 E. Main St., the same location where Johnson has been serving customers since 2002.
Although he has 40 years of pharmacy experience in Merrill, Robbie knows that Johnson Pharmacy will still be a new start up business and he’ll have to rebuild his customer base from scratch. But, he’s confident that the Merrill community will support the revitalized Johnson Pharmacy, as it has in the past.
“I feel it’s the right thing for us and the community,” Robbie said. “Merrill has been very good to us and very supportive, and hopefully that support will continue.”
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 will reopen 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 remain intact, all the necessary licenses have been applied for, and the work is underway to get the computer system up and running and get stock on the shelves.
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.
“Without the pharmacy, we’re missing a vital piece downtown,” Trina said.
In addition to meeting traditional prescription needs, Johnson Pharmacy will offer 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 special needs that standard manufactured medications cannot meet.
The new Johnson Pharmacy will employ 6-8 people in the first year and the Johnsons hope to see that number grow to 10-12 within three years.
Robbie said he truly enjoys the practice of pharmacy, and being in business for himself.