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Christian's Pharmacy eyes weekend changeover

Isaac Wine has opened two pharmacies in the past eight years and both are thriving.

On the eve of moving his downtown location to bigger quarters with greater exposure, however, Wine admits he's sweating it a bit.

The owner of Christian's Pharmacy and Lone Pine Pharmacy is shifting his Central Avenue operation to the corner of Riverside Avenue and Jackson Street this weekend, a move that requires his best Houdini impression.

"We have to pull the plug on this thing Friday and be in our new place, up and running, Monday," Wine said. "I'm pretty stressed."

That means dismantling everything in the 1,000-square-foot space at 14 N. Central Ave. and setting up fixtures, computers and phones at 333 N. Riverside Ave.

"The last time when we moved, it was from our 50-square-foot cubbyhole (in the Woolworth Building) to where we are now," he said. "We literally packed up everything and walked across the street. This time, there are no shelves to start stocking, everything has to be dismantled and reassembled over the weekend; I have confidence we'll be able to do it."

Wine planned a move to larger quarters a year ago, but it took longer than he hoped. 

"The main reason we're moving is for exposure," Wine said. "When the new state plans came out for this year, the reimbursements were awful, it was a night-and-day difference. It meant we had to grow the business. I had been happy with the way things were for years and the last two years were relatively static in terms of growth. We had to make a move to drum up business."

Wine paid $310,000 for the erstwhile Lithia Motors dealership office and lot on a quarter acre, closing the deal in June. The 2,100-square foot shop is still smaller than other corporately owned competitors about town, but unlike the Central Avenue location, he now has plenty of onsite parking.

"People always told me they didn't know where to park," he said. "They weren't willing to drive around and around looking for parking."

The pharmacy also sports "can't miss" signage on its facades.

"We spent a little more on signs and they are disproportional because we wanted to make sure they were attractive and capturing people's attention," Wine said.

His goal was to move in August or the first of September, but it took two months to get the approvals he needed from the city before he could start the journey.

"I had hoped to move when we had summer weather and more daylight," Wine said. "This wasn't by design, Thanksgiving is not the best of time for moving."

Wine has six employees downtown and five at the 1,800-square-foot Lone Pine Pharmacy, built in the second half of 2011. The biggest difference on the inside, Wine said, will be the expanded product selection.

"Any pharmacy has the standard categories of cough and cold, pain remedies and wound care," he said. "It's all scaled down where we've been. But now we'll have twice as much available."

The pharmacy's hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, will remain the same, as will the 541-776-0606 telephone number.

"People ask about Saturdays," he said. "Quite honestly, I would love to, but I'm the only pharmacist right now and that would require working six days. But I have a family and no one wants me working six days a week right now."

He has hired a new delivery person in recent weeks and hopes to continue that trend.

"I've added to my crew at a steady rate," Wine said. "But there's a possibility we may go gang-busters right off the bat."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

Pharmacist Isaac Wine is moving his Christian's Pharmacy to bigger quarters on Riverside Avenue. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell