CORONAVIRUS

Clark's Pharmacy offers small-town service, even during coronavirus

Pharmacy technician Becky Riedesel (right) hands Becky Duvel of Toddville, Iowa, her prescription in the drive-through a
Pharmacy technician Becky Riedesel (right) hands Becky Duvel of Toddville, Iowa, her prescription in the drive-through at Clark’s Pharmacy, 1946 42nd St. NE. The pharmacy lobby is closed to most clients but the drive-thru is open. While the staff wears masks when working in the pharmacy, they also wear gloves when interacting with customers. Surfaces such as counters, keyboards, telephones as credit card keypads are wiped down on a regular basis. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — Craig Clark believes customer service can set you apart.

It is the foundation on which he has built his pharmacy, Clark’s Pharmacy and Gifts, for the past four decades.

“My wife, Pam, and I grew up in small towns and we like to offer our own kind of hometown service, where we know your name,” he said.

Clarks Pharmacy has a little coffee bar set up and a seating area with a fireplace for customers needing to wait while a prescription is filled.

“We are just trying to put everyone at ease and make them feel comfortable at Clark’s Pharmacy,” he said. “We don’t want it to feel sterile. We want it to feel more like home.”

The couple met in pharmacy school at the University of Iowa, and after graduation had the opportunity buy a small pharmacy business in 1980. They have been filling prescriptions ever since.

Today, their son, Ryan, also helps manage the business and plans to take over the ownership reins when the Clarks retire in a few years. Clark’s is are one of the only independently owned pharmacies in town, the family says.

There have been changes at Clark’s over the years, including moving into its current location off Interstate 380, on 42nd Street in Cedar Rapids, in 1990 and expanding within that building in recent years.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“The expansion allowed us to increase the services we provide a lot and we expanded over-the-counter product offering as well,” Craig recalled.

Pam created a gift shop within the pharmacy as well.

“The idea was to have a place where customers could grab a quick birthday gift, whether they just needed a card or a candle, a piece of jewelry or a baby gift,” she said.

“It’s expanded a little more than when we initially started it, but it just makes it easy for someone to pull up out front, grab something and have a gift taken care of.”

One of their earliest changes to the building, when they first moved to the current location, is paying off these days.

“Way back then, we were one of the first pharmacies to put in a drive-up window,” Craig recalled, noting that they also do medication by mail and delivery. “And now it’s been a god-send at this point during the COVID-19 crisis.”

The pharmacy’s doors are closed to the public, but they still are busy with work inside, first going to curbside service and now relying on the drive-through.

“We also continue to med-pack, mail and deliver prescriptions, which has ramped up a bit,” Craig said.

“We need to protect our customers and really our staff because we have to keep everyone healthy. We are so busy and here you can’t just bring in a temporary person to work in the pharmacy. We are so blessed and fortunate to be able to stay in business and meet payroll and help our customers.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Craig said they are closely following all of Linn County Public Health’s guidelines, including wearing masks and limiting contact with customers and their medications.

They also are working to keep up morale with their staff of 18 employees. They have been ordering in lunch each Friday from a local restaurant.

“We want our employees to know we appreciate how hard they are working and support other local businesses that are struggling,” Craig said.

As Craig and Pam begin to transition out of ownership, they continue to seek to incorporate more new ideas, including offering immunizations.

“In his early work, Ryan was in a chain pharmacy and he’s brought a lot of those good business practices to us,” said Clark. “He’s brought improvements to merchandising and marketing while still maintaining our company’s core principles in doing business.”

Many Corridor small businesses are up and running. Let us know about one you think might make for an interesting “My Biz feature via michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

At a glance

• Owner: Craig Clark

• Business: Clark’s Pharmacy and Gifts

• Address: 1946 42nd St. NE, Cedar Rapids

• Phone: (319) 393-3210

• Website: clarksrxcr.com

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.