Southold Pharmacy still in the family as it turns 50

SOUTHOLD PHARMACY COURTESY PHOTO | The pharmacy soon after it opened in 1963.
SOUTHOLD PHARMACY COURTESY PHOTO | The pharmacy soon after it opened in 1963.

Jackie Baker of Mattituck woke-up feeling ill one morning. She needed a prescription refilled.

It was about 2 a.m. and the local CVS was closed.

Her husband picked up the phone and within half an hour, Ms. Baker had her medication — from Southold Pharmacy.

“The manager drove to Mattituck and met my husband with the prescription,” Ms. Baker said. “You can’t find that in the box stores, that personal touch.”

While this kind of service is not always seen at chain pharmacies, it is exactly what Donald Scott was aiming for when he opened Southold Pharmacy in 1963, where the Bakers have been customers ever since.

Today, Southold Pharmacy is standing strong, with an expanded home medical equipment department and a sister pharmacy on Shelter Island, all thanks to customer support, said Paulette Ofrias, Mr. Scott’s daughter.

The pharmacy will celebrate its 50th anniversary in October, a milestone for the Scott family.

“My father spent all of his time here,” Ms. Ofrias said. “This was his passion.”

Mr. Scott worked at the pharmacy until his death last October at the age of 84.

“This [anniversary] is really about him, about his legacy,” Ms. Ofrias said.

Southold Pharmacy founders William Verme, left, and Bob Scott.
Southold Pharmacy founders William Verme, left, and Bob Scott.

In the late 1950s Mr. Scott began working at Kramer’s Drug Store on Main Road in Southold. With a degree from St. John’s College of Pharmacy and the support of his first wife, Ann, he founded Southold Pharmacy with co-owner William Verme.

Ms. Ofrias said she remembers the store being open 365 days a year and spending the night at the pharmacy with her parents and sisters during hurricanes and snowstorms. She said her father wanted to be open in case someone was in need.

“He saw it as somewhere where he could help the people of the community,” said Terry O’Connor, manager of the home health care department. “Often when people did not have the correct insurance or didn’t really have the money, he would take care of it anyway.”

In the past 50 years, the store has had three major renovations and been remodeled several other times, Ms. Ofrias said.

She said her father’s “out-of-the-box thinking” is what had helped the company stay current.

“He just had a knack for knowing what the times needed,” she said. “He saw the big boxes down the road and thought, ‘How could we provide something different?’ ”

Whether it was keeping a list of customers’ makeup and fragrance preferences or switching to computerized prescription systems, the pharmacy always tried to stay up to date — with a personal touch.

The pharmacy’s last major innovation was sparked after Ms. Ofrias’ mother, Ann, got sick.

“We needed medical equipment and the closest place to get it was in Riverhead,” she said. Soon after that, Southold Pharmacy expanded to include the home care department.

Today the pharmacy is still a family venture, as Ms. Ofrias and her sister Suzanne Fujita run the business, with the help of their husbands, Greg Ofrias and David Fujita. Each of their children, and even a few cousins, helps with the store’s day-to-day operation.

She said she hopes forward thinking, family support and the support of the community will help the pharmacy live to see another 50 years.

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Editor’s Note: The version of this story that was published in Thursday’s newspaper incorrectly identified Mr. Scott’s first wife. Her name was Ann.

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