Village Pharmacy to become part of Pamida
Even before the retail chain Pamida was purchased by Sun Capital Partners in 2005, Ellsworth was on their radar.
"We've had our eye on Ellsworth for the last three years," said Jim Larson, Vice President of Property Development for Pamida. "We felt the property was right and the community was right. We're very excited to be here."
Pamida was announced at last month's village planning commission meeting as the cornerstone of the Crossing Meadows business development, located at Hwy. 65 and Crosstown Road. During that meeting, the plans were announced to start construction this month, hopefully to be completed by September for a November opening.
Larson explained that, when Sun Capital took over Pamida, they decided to take things in a different matter.
"They wanted us to go where Wal-Mart and Target aren't," he said. "We feel and they feel the growth is there."
Therefore, he continued, "You're not going to see us in Minneapolis, Milwaukee or Eau Claire, you'll see us in Lancaster and Reedsburg.
"We're not afraid of small towns. Pamida was started in small towns and we believe that's our niche."
Currently, Pamida has 18 locations in Wisconsin--besides Lancaster and Reedsburg. The closest locations are New Richmond and Amery. Meanwhile, on the Minnesota side, Larson is correct, as there are no locations around the Twin Cities area.
Larson explained a typical Pamida will feature a variety of items, including health and beauty, school supplies, patio furniture, automotive, hardware, groceries, lawn and garden, apparel for men, women, boys and girls, and a pharmacy.
And it won't be just any pharmacy. Village Pharmacy, which has been owned and operated by Joel Schulze since 1975, and is currently located in the village's midway district, will become the Pamida Pharmacy when the store opens.
"We're going to be transferring out of private ownership," he said.
Schulze said it's a "win-win situation" for both sides in that Pamida could own their pharmacy and he "could move on to the next phase of his career."
Schulze has been in the pharmaceutical business since 1970 and, at 60-years-old, was exploring all options when Pamida called.
"The timing was very good," he said.
He sounded like a man who had no regrets about the move.
"Times have changed from when I first started," he said. "Independent pharmacies have gone out of business (besides Ellsworth, Elmwood and Glenwood City pharmacies have been forced to close in the past couple of years) because younger pharmacists are working for corporations. It's inevitable."
He explained Pamida will be keeping the inventory they want and Village Pharmacy will have to liquidate the rest of the merchandise before the opening.
And with the news none of his staff will lose their jobs once the move comes, Schulze believes Pamida will succeed in Ellsworth.
"They're looking into smaller communities that are viable and economic and Ellsworth fits that bill," he said. "They're a good big company for small towns."