Relief is in sight for North Branch area residents who were forced to transfer prescriptions out of the city with the closing of Shopko’s pharmacy in February.
On May 18 County Market celebrated the news that it is partnering with NuCara to bring a pharmacy to its North Branch store.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity here,” said Brett Barker, vice president of pharmacy for NuCara. “I know it’s a thriving community – that was super clear the first time you pull in – there’s a lot going on.”
NuCara owns and manages over 20 full-service, community-based pharmacies in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Texas and Illinois. This is its first partnership with County Market, owned by Jerry’s Foods of Edina.
A 1,000-foot addition will be constructed at the southwest corner of the grocery store to house a full-service pharmacy and clinical services, including immunizations and medical management services. No drive-through is planned at this time.
According to Barker, construction is set to begin soon and is scheduled to end in August, with a goal to be open by Labor Day.
“Obviously, with Shopko leaving town, we’re trying to do everything a little quicker than we normally would,” he said.
Familiar staff on board
In addition to bringing prescriptions back to the city, the new pharmacy will bring back familiar pharmacy staff.
NuCara has hired five former employees of the Shopko pharmacy – former manager Cari McCargar, a pharmacist, two technicians and a clerk.
McCargar, who will act as pharmacy manager at NuCara, has not been employed since she left Shopko, but in recent months has put in many hours of her own time helping to get the new venture off the ground. She’s even purchased secondhand fixtures from another pharmacy that had gone out of business.
“I’m so happy to be working for her again,” said Janet Jakubowski, a former Shopko pharmacy technician who will join the team at County Market.
Mayor Jim Swenson believes that getting the old Shopko team together will be a big draw for those thinking of transferring their prescriptions back to North Branch.
“I was really happy because (the five NuCara employees) know the people,” he said. “They’re going to bring people back. They can step right in there.”
County Market store manager Jenny Gordner presided over a “groundbreaking” ceremony on Saturday, May 18, where representatives of Jerry’s Foods, NuCara, the city of North Branch and the local chamber wielded sledgehammers to symbolize the start of the renovation.
“I am so excited,” she said. “This is so good for the community. It’s good for our store. We’re celebrating our 10-year anniversary today. What better way to start the next 10 years than with a groundbreaking for the pharmacy?”