August 2018

The Right Prescription: The small town drug store lives at Bluffton Pharmacy

Author: Barry Kaufman

Think back to that old-fashioned pharmacy, the one that held down a street corner of your hometown for generations. The one that existed long before the big-box stores threw a pharmacy counter into the back of a convenience store and called it a drug store. The one where the pharmacist knew your name, knew your family and always greeted you with a smile.

It’s maybe thought of as a relic of a bygone era. One of the things we wish we hadn’t allowed ourselves to lose in the march to modernity. To those elegizing the end of the corner drug store, there’s good news. That old-fashioned hometown drug store lives on at Bluffton Pharmacy.

“We are a traditional pharmacy, and we do custom compounding,” said Jim Sauter, owner of Bluffton Pharmacy. “It’s something a lot of people are doing now, but we’ve been doing it for 30 years.”

While the footprint of Bluffton Pharmacy has remained largely unchanged in its 30 years as Bluffton has grown around it, that’s not to say they haven’t kept up with the latest in treatments and technologies. In addition to the ancient art of compounding, Sauter and his team have adopted all manner of cutting-edge advancements and new techniques, from essential oil aromatherapy and anti-aging collagen to hormone therapy.

It’s a unique mix of new and old in a shop that serves as a reminder why some things never go out of style. Like the lost art of customer service. “I don’t think anyone does a better job of service,” said Sauter. “We pride ourselves on knowing just about everybody’s name. And if we don’t know it, the next time you come in, we will.”

That dedication to customer service feels right at home in Old Town Bluffton, where that small town feeling has never left. Sauter points to the extra steps they’ve gone for customers, such as the customer who couldn’t afford their child’s medication. He happily gave them the medication, letting them pay him back as needed
It’s that level of personal care you’re simply not going to find within the vast soulless aisles of the big chain stores. And it’s hardly the only advantage Bluffton Pharmacy has over them.

“Our pricing is so much better than the chains. If you’re paying cash for prescriptions, nobody’s going to beat my price. I’ll guarantee it,” said Sauter. “Give me any medicine, pick up the phone and call any chain pharmacy and ask what they charge for it… The other day, I filled a prescription for hydrocortisone suppositories. I charged $39. The customer just got them from Walgreen’s for $119. It’s not a dollar or two. It’s huge.”

It’s a potent mix of Sauter’s deep respect and admiration for his craft—he’s a third generation pharmacist—and a dedication to preserving the small-town customer-centered appeal of the old-fashioned corner pharmacy. It’s something we all wish a drug store can be.

And it’s open for business, right in Old Town Bluffton.

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