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Former New London car dealership eyed for independent pharmacy

By Lee Howard

Publication: The Day

Published January 11. 2014 4:00AM   Updated January 11. 2014 11:25PM

New London - An independent drug store with three other locations is hoping to move into a portion of the former Falvey's auto dealership on Ocean Avenue, according to documents at the city Planning & Zoning office.

Quality Care Drug, which also operates in Centerbrook, Higganum and Portland, filed a special permit application last month with the city seeking to do business in about a quarter of the 5,900-square-foot Falvey's building at 467 Ocean Ave., near Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

A public hearing on the application from Quality Care Drug New London LLC is planned at 7 p.m. Thursday in council chambers in City Hall.

"We are an independent neighborhood pharmacy," co-owner Joseph Thibeault said in a phone interview. "It's a great spot."

Thibeault said he and co-owner Greg McKenna, both pharmacists, will do specialty compounding not available at many commercial pharmacies. Thibeault explained that some doctors are prescribing combinations of medicines in areas such as pain and hormone treatments that require special formulations done by a pharmacist.

The store, aiming for an April opening, also plans to do specialty packaging for seniors that will help guide them through a seven-day regimen of required medications. Deliveries to the area are planned as well.

"I believe this business will be a benefit to the general neighborhood ... by providing easy and convenient access to health care products," Thibeault said in a letter to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

But Arsalan Altaf, property manager of K Brothers LLC, which owns the building at 485 Ocean Ave. that houses a Sam's Stores convenience store, objected to the application. Altaf, in a letter to the commission, cited increased traffic and the residential character of the neighborhood as reasons for denying the application.

"The addition of a pharmacy will simply duplicate many of the products sold by the convenience store and will not add any benefit to the local inhabitants," read part of Altaf's letter.

The Falvey's dealership, on nearly an acre of land, is within a neighborhood business zone, which requires a special permit for any change of use. The building's owner is 471 Ocean Ave. LLC, whose principal is Timothy D. Falvey. Attorney Garon Camassar is listed as Falvey's agent.

The 1,570-square-foot proposed pharmacy would sell prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, sundries, gifts and greeting cards, according to a description of the project. It will employ five people, with at least three on duty for each shift.

Hours of operation were expected to be 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

Thibeault acknowledge that many people have written off independent pharmacies as a thing of the past because competition with chains is so difficult.

But he said with so many former prescription meds now sold over the counter, he believes personal medicine advice is more important than ever.

"We think we deliver better customer service," he said.

l.howard@theday.com

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