Lewis Drug CEO: Supplies are there; staff are ‘true heroes’

March 19, 2020

Lewis Drug is managing through the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a strong supply chain and employees who are dedicated to cleaning the store, stocking shelves and assisting customers, CEO Mark Griffin said.

“The No. 1 mission is to take care of the health of those in our markets, and I think we’re doing a great job of that,” said Griffin, whose company has 59 stores in three states.

“Our pharmacists are true heroes facing the public regardless of the uncertainty out there. They’re health care professionals, and they’re acting accordingly and just doing a terrific job.”

Stores have been busy as customers stocked up on everything from household products to grocery items and pet food, he said.

But inventory at Lewis doesn’t appear to be as low as other places. On Thursday, for instance, the downtown store was out of only sanitizer, toilet paper and most cleaning products.

Soap, staple food items and over-the-counter medications largely were available.

“We’ve been fortunate we’ve been able to buy from some companies that large chains can’t buy from because they don’t have the flexibility of buying in smaller quantities,” Griffin said.

“So we’re able to get Purell, toilet paper, paper towels, all the things in demand. It arrives and goes out fast. I encourage people to make frequent trips to Lewis because that’s how you’re going to catch it. We have a terrific group of buyers and merchants who source the country and come up with terrific deals.”

He said he is hearing there is about a six-month supply of over-the-counter medication and most other medical products.

“So we should be OK, just fine, for that amount of time,” he said. “That’s an educated guess, but I think that’s what it looks like. That includes pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter products.”

Patients can use a drive-thru at the Lewis pharmacy instead of coming to the store if they choose. The store is asking customers who are ill to call in prescription refills ahead of time and only use the drive-thru.

Inside the store, “the thing we can’t do enough of and we try and try is sterilization of any contact points within the stores, whether it be around the pharmacy, wiping down counters nonstop, anything a customer would touch,” Griffin said.

“Keypads for the credit card machines are wiped every transaction. The front check stand is the same way. We have Purell dispensers throughout the store for customer use, which is rare. So we’re trying to do our part.”

So far, Lewis has requested that customers limit purchases on some in-demand items and has not decided to adjust hours or designate hours for seniors.

“We want to do things that are productive and considerate, but at the same time we don’t want to do it for a headline,” Griffin said.

“We want to do it because it means something. Bringing them in at 6 or 7 a.m., I don’t like that either. So we’re trying to be considerate and helpful. We’re set up for having the most convenient, speedy retail environment you can come up with, with the product selection we have, which is considerable.”

Customers do not need to hoard supplies, he emphasized.

“We need to be rational about this,” he said. “My message to the community is we will get through this together. We’ll look back at it as an experience to learn from, and it will hopefully never happen again. Patience. We’ll get through it as long as we work together. And I think that’s happening every day.”

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Lewis Drug CEO: Supplies are there; staff are ‘true heroes’

Lewis Drug is managing through the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a strong supply chain and employees who are dedicated to cleaning the store, stocking shelves and assisting customers, CEO Mark Griffin said.

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