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At 77 years old, pharmacy alumnus DAVID LUTZ P’60 has not given retirement much thought. After all, his 15,000-square-foot pharmacy and gift shop—located near Hershey, Pennsylvania—continues to grow and increase its profits each year.
In this new era of chain pharmacies, mail order prescriptions, and online shopping, Lutz and his wife Jeanne, owners of Rhoads Pharmacy & Gift Shop in Hummelstown, are confident that their personalized customer service sets their family-owned store apart from the rest. The store’s variety of unique offerings is also a major draw for customers, as the two-story business boasts a pharmacy, Hallmark Gold Crown gift shop, and home décor, fashion, and accessories departments, as well as a candle shop and gourmet food market.
“We are averaging about 350 customers per day; half of them are here for the pharmacy and the other half are here for the gift shop and home décor section,” said Lutz. “The funny thing is that we notice our pharmacy customers tend to shop in other areas of the store, but our gift shop and home decor shoppers generally do not use our pharmacy.”
That’s because Lutz said his retail customers will travel as far as 25 miles to shop at his store, whereas most of his pharmacy customers live within a five-mile radius of the store—which is convenient for filling prescriptions and consulting with the pharmacists.
“Although our best profit margins are generated from the retail sales, the pharmacy will always be the heartbeat of my store,” said Lutz, noting the store surpassed $2 million in non-pharmacy sales over the past year. “We fill about 10,000 prescriptions each month, so our pharmacy is definitely keeping busy and contributing to the growth of the store.”
What started out as a small hometown pharmacy in 1931 has transformed into a pharmacy and retail mecca that has undergone four expansions since the Lutzes purchased the store in 1973.
Rhoads currently has 35 employees, three pharmacists, and a pharmacy robot that acts as an extra set of hands to cap, photograph, count, and sort up to 15,000 pills per day.
As a pharmacist and business owner, Lutz said his store has allowed him to combine his passion in healthcare with his keen interests in business, marketing, and advertising. His and Jeanne’s leadership over the past 40 years helped build and maintain a customer base of more than 15,000 people. Lutz credits his digital marketing and advertisement efforts to his increase in business over the years, because he established an e-mail club for his customers to sign up to receive coupons and news about the store.
“From day one, all customers have received the same level of quality service, from being greeted at the door and quickly waited on, to receiving one-on-one consultations with a pharmacist or free health screenings,” said Lutz. “I don’t plan to stop working any time soon…I’ll think about retirement when I’m older.”