Great Neck Chemists, a local pharmacy on Middle Neck Road, just turned 30 years old this year — and has survived against growing odds.
“When we first opened the pharmacy, there was one small chain, a local chain,” Frank Longo, a founder of the business, recalled. “Now there are two national chains in Great Neck.”
In addition to this increased competition, Longo said his business has faced factors like lower reimbursement from insurance companies and a higher cost of doing business.
But when asked how Great Neck Chemists has made it so long while other stores have shuttered, Longo had a quick answer.
“Personal service,” Longo said. “Personalized service, free delivery, talking with the people, consulting, trying to be the in-between to the doctors in obtaining their refills and anything else that we can do.”
Longo’s first foray into the business was growing up in Brooklyn, where he worked at a local drugstore owned by the father of John Stella, his future business partner. Longo then decided that since he was going to pharmacy school, he should open a pharmacy.
“And then when I graduated and received my license, I found a store for sale in Great Neck and purchased it,” Longo said.
Workers said that unlike larger chains like CVS and Rite Aid, Great Neck Chemists seeks to individually treat customers. This ranges from creating specific medications and bio-identical hormones to talking them through medical issues and always being available.
“We know our customers. They’re not numbers, they’re names, they’re people. We know their families, so we can help them out with a lot of different issues,” said John DiMartino, 42, a store manager who has worked there since he was 13.
One unique service, conducted by John Stella’s son Christian, who is also a pharmacist, is compounding. Essentially, this involves mixing individual ingredients at the exact strength and dosage to create a medication specifically for a patient.
Great Neck Chemists also carries a large inventory. Behind the counter and deep into the store, prescriptions, pills and medications line the walls to keep options vast, but visits quick.
“The wait time’s less than 10 minutes,” Daniel Longo, Frank’s son and their business development manager, noted.
The Longos plan to give the storefront a “facelift” in the coming weeks with new signs, windows and painting. But for the long term, they said they foresee being here for at least another 30 years and continuing their personalized service – after all both Daniel and Connor Longo, Frank’s other son who is currently in pharmacy school, as well as Christian Stella, intend to continue the business.