Service With A Smile: Ottauquechee Pharmacy Aims To Make Life EasierDec 01, 2021 01:29PM ● By By Pamela Brown Photos by Lynn Bohannon
Smilin' Steve Hochberg, RPh, and Laura McAllister, PharmD, fill prescriptions for customers.
A full-time pharmacist is on staff to serve customers, and in addition to prescriptions, the pharmacy sells a variety of health and wellness products including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, first-aid and personal care items, and more. “We have a limited number of products, but we can order anything and get it here for you,” notes Steve. A special service the pharmacy offers is compliance packaging, prepacking a customer’s medication in a plastic package with dates and times labeled for easy dispensing. The pharmacy also offers COVID-19 vaccination, flu shots, and drive-through PCR testing. Curbside service is available, and down the road Steve hopes to offer a prescription home-delivery service. “It’s a possibility if we can get the staff for it. We will do whatever it takes to help our customers.”
Customers Come First
Offering quality products is important, but so is a commitment to providing the highest level of customer service. “We are customer-service driven. When you come in, you’re going to be greeted and welcomed, and it all starts with ‘how can we help you?’ Again, we will do anything to help the customer,” says Steve, a hands-on owner whose home base is Rutland but he visits the various locations often and fills in whenever needed. “The key is the buck stops with me. I am always there—I’m either present or available by phone. We are very responsive to the needs of our customers. This way of thinking is something my wife and I started over 40 years ago. It becomes ingrained in you to be a responsible person.” Steve remains firm in his belief that it’s unacceptable to answer a question with ‘I don’t know.’ “If you don’t know, make an attempt to find out. We don’t like to leave anything open-ended.”
A Family Affair
Steve’s 40-year career in the pharmaceutical business has served him well in the competitive field. “That has differentiated Smilin’ Steve’s pharmacies from everyone else,” says Steve, who never set out to embark on a career in the medical field. “I loved math and science and after school when my mom suggested, ‘how about a pharmacy,’ I thought, why not? I liked being independent and it worked.”
His sons have been part of the business for more than 20 years. “It works for us. They’ve seen me work since they were kids, so they lived and breathed the business, and even ran the cash register ringing up candy as soon as they could reach it,” says Steve. In case people wonder about the name Smilin’ Steve, it was actually a nickname that the family started on a radio station and used for television advertisements and it continues to set the tone for the family’s dedication to providing pleasant customer service.
Committed to Helping People
Opening a pharmacy in Woodstock was always a consideration, and when the Woodstock Pharmacy closed last year, the Hochbergs knew they had a great opportunity to fill a need. “It was always on our mind, and we’re always up for a challenge,” says Steve. The pharmacy’s location in the lower level of the Ottauquechee Health Center building is ideal. “It makes it convenient for customers. We’re thrilled—it’s working out great,” he says, admitting that although the pandemic was unsettling, it didn’t stop him from conducting business at his other locations. “It was a bit of a challenge, but we never missed a beat. We were still open 365 days. As it progressed we did drive-throughs, and then the store opened to customers once again and we had plastic barriers and all that was needed to keep customers safe. We weathered through it and we’re back to normal. It’s going well here in Woodstock, and we’re here to help people and make life easier for them.”
32 Pleasant Street, Suite 3