If a hometown pharmacy sounds a bit like vintage Americana, it should. That’s because independent pharmacies are becoming a rare breed. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, more than 16 percent of rural and small town pharmacies closed from 2003 to 2018, as sweeping changes hit the healthcare industry. If your hometown still boasts an independent pharmacy, you’d be wise to try it out; the perks just might surprise you.

You’ll probably save money.

When you think of the benefits of big chain pharmacies, your bottom line is likely right at the top. But those chain drugstore, supermarket and big-box retailer pharmacies aren’t saving you as much as you might think - or anything at all. According to a 2018 Consumer Reports investigation, independent pharmacies beat out the drugstore chains when it came to price - and by large margin.

This is no surprise to Rudy Medved, who has owned Medved’s Pharmacy in Charleroi since 1991, but began working there in 1978. “Most chains and drug stores like Rite Aid and Walgreens have minimum pricing,” he said. “If you walk in and 30 pills cost $9.85 but you only need half the order, you’ll still pay $9.85. If you came to us or any other independents, you’ll pay half the price. People think the chains are discount stores and they’re not.”

Not to mention an independent pharmacy has just that - independence/ This means they’re freer to make decisions and adjustments for their customers. “If we can reduce the price or match the price for them, we’ll do that,” Medved said.

You’ll get sound information.

When was the last time you had a long chat with an actual pharmacist at a chain drugstore? If you haven’t experienced that recently - or ever - you might want to try the independent guys.

“Our service is personal,” Medved said. “If you have questions you talk to me, not the clerk or a tech. You don’t have to wait a half-hour to talk to someone. I talk to everyone firsthand when they fill a new prescription.”

Medved often finds opportunities to help his customers understand their insurance coverage and options - something that’s become more confusing as the healthcare landscape has changed.

“Many patients think they’re required to use mail order through their insurance, but they’re not,” he said. “And some do it because they think they’re getting a better deal, but they’re not.”

The service is unbeatable.

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do when you’re not feeling your best, it’s run out to the pharmacy. And even when you feel great, a little errand can throw a wrench in your schedule. That’s why many independent pharmacies offer something you won’t get from a chain drugstore.

“We do free delivery within a 10-mile radius,” Medved said. “Senior citizens and parents with young kids may have a hard time getting out. This makes it a lot easier for them.”

Delivery isn’t the only personalized service you’ll find Medved offering his customers. The pharmacy also provides blister packs that group medications into doses for those taking several prescriptions.

“You just tear off a pack and take the dose. It’s convenient for travel and a good way to know you didn’t miss your dose,” Medved said.

Medved’s Pharmacy also provides carry charges, allowing extra time to pay for prescriptions for customers who need it.

It’s part of the community.

For Medved, the most rewarding part of owning an independent pharmacy is the daily interaction with his fellow community members. After 40 years in the same store, Medved is now serving grandchildren of the pharmacy’s original customers.

“I know my customers, I know their children and their grandchildren,” he said. “When they come in, I have things to talk to them about. When you talk to someone even for 5 to 10 minutes, you find out a lot and may have a unique perspective on their health.”

Sponsored content brought to you by Medved’s Pharmacy.

l536 McKean Ave., Charleroi, PA

For more information, call 724-483-6589.

A journalism graduate from Brigham Young University, Kristen has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.