Jackie Howell has been working as a pharmacist for other people for more than 30 years. Now she’s striking out on her own.
Howell recently reopened The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in downtown O’Fallon. She wants to bring back the friendly, hometown service that pharmacist Sam Aldeman provided in the same location from the early 1980s until his retirement three years ago.
“He was a hugger,” said Howell, 55, of Belleville. “Even now, when he comes in, he gives hugs.”
Howell took possession of the storefront in June. She had worked at the pharmacy part-time for other owners, who operated for about two years. They closed in April.
With help from family and friends, Howell gutted the space, installed a new ceiling, flooring, plumbing, counters and computers and applied a fresh coat of paint.
The Medicine Shoppe reopened Nov. 1 at 122 W. State St. in O’Fallon.
“It felt like it took forever, but I’m really pleased with what we did,” Howell said. “Now if we can just get the customers back in here, I think we’ll be OK.”
It felt like it took forever, but I’m really pleased with what we did. Now if we can just get the customers back in here, I think we’ll be OK.
Jackie Howell on renovating The Medicine Shoppe space
She took the part-time job at The Medicine Shoppe last year to spend more time with her two children, Jake, 18, and Rachel, 20, before they left home.
“I love O’Fallon,” Howell said. “The (O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce) is so good to work with. It just seems like people really want you to succeed.”
Beyond pharmaceuticals, the store sells first-aid supplies, vitamins and toiletries and soon will carry greeting cards. Howell also has an 18-foot-long “dollar aisle” with baby supplies, cleaning products, baking goods and other items for $1.
“I asked them to get my price point to be competitive with Walmart,” she said. “I don’t want people to feel like they have to pay more because I’m small.”
Howell is qualified to do flu and strep-throat swabs on ages 13 and older and, if they test positive, she can write prescriptions to treat them.
The pharmacy accepts all insurances, except public aid, which Howell expects to accept in the future. There is no drive-through window, but customers can call and someone will run prescriptions out to the car.
“Medicine Shoppe is a chain, but you work for yourself,” Howell said. “They give you services and help with marketing, but you’re still independent.”