Pill Box Pharmacy open and ready to serve the Lower Third community

Pharmacist Michelle Smith talks to customer Martha Lowe about the pharmacy's services. Lowe lives on Lower Third Street in Alexandria.

Pharmacist Michelle Scott

The Pill Box is located at 3203 Third St., Alexandria.

By Sherri L. Jackson

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s here.

It is a pharmacy, and here is on Third and Douglass streets in the Lower Third community of District 3.

And Martha Lowe, who lives in the community couldn’t be prouder that there is finally a pharmacy in her community.

“I’m proud that they put something down here for us. I am ecstatic,” Lowe said as she was questioning Pharmacist Michelle Smith about the business’ services.

Joe Williams and Smith, who has been a pharmacist for 23 years, are the owners of The Pill Box, a full-service pharmacy located at 3203 Third St. Smith previously worked at Rite-Aid on MacArthur Drive.

The Third Street location is the second Pill Box Pharmacy in Alexandria. The first location, which opened in January, is located at 4740 Jackson St. The Pill Box is the former The Medicine Shoppe.

The pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  All forms of insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, are accepted.

Though the Third Street location has not had its official grand opening, it is open for business and awaiting customers, especially the community’s elderly who’ve expressed concerns about the lack of a community pharmacy.

And service is what Williams and Smith hope to bring to the community.

Williams said his desire is to bring the pharmacy to Lower Third Street surfaced about a year ago when he noticed there was not a pharmacist near Rapides Primary Health Care Clinic located on Willow Glenn River Road and that people were outside of the clinic waiting on a bus.

“I looked at a building next door to the clinic, but that didn’t work out. Then the word got out and the city approached me about (participating in) SPARC,” he said.

SPARC stands for Special Planned Activity Redevelopment Corridors. It is the City of Alexandria’s infrastructure investment project that includes three Cultural Restoration Areas known as CRAs. Lower Third Street is one of those CRAs.

In March, Williams was one of the potential investors Mayor Jacques Roy said was interested in bringing retail development to Lower Third Street.

“The ultimate goal is to bring something bigger to the community, but I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to get going,” he said.

Smith said the pharmacy located in the small building that once served as a food establishment has the same amenities as a larger pharmacy.

“We are full service, and we have the top 200 medications in stock. What we don’t have in stock, we can get the same day or the next day. If we have the drug in stock, we will fill the prescription right away. The service goal is 10 minutes, Smith said.

“Also we can match any competitor’s price, and it’s easy to transfer transcriptions. If you need a refill, we can call the doctor and get it for you,” she said.

Additionally, as business picks up, both Williams and Smith said there will be job opportunities available to community residents. Until then, Williams and Smith are working at the pharmacy.

Meanwhile, Attorney Jonathan Goins, who represents the Lower Third community on the Alexandria City Council, said having the pharmacy in the community is a “positive beginning to a bright future of economic development in the Lower Third Area.”

“I applaud Mr. Williams for taking the step that many businesses are afraid to do. Even before I became a councilman, one of the main concerns of the elderly is that they didn’t have any way to get their medicine in the community,” he said. “When the opportunity arose, I was excited to hear Mr. Williams was coming to the community.”

“This is the catalyst needed to spark other businesses to come down and participate in the growth and development of our community.”

Goins said he encourages the community to visit the pharmacy and to spread the word throughout their communities that the pharmacy is available and open for business.

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