Pictured above from left to right is technician Wendy Curvin, technician Betty Phillips, pharmacist and owner Bob Neal, technician Paulette Chandler, pharmacist and owner Ronnie Smith, cashier Brady Lockmiller, technician Carla Harrell (technician). Seated: Pharmacist and owner Amanda Divine welcomes residents to Alaco Pharmacy’s grand reopening. Photo courtesy of Gary Wells.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
A Glencoe staple hosted its grand reopening Friday, June 26. After months of extensive renovations, Alaco Pharmacy on 544 West Main Street is back in business and better than ever before.
Short for “Alabama Company,” Alaco Pharmacy first made its mark in Glencoe near the Jacket’s Nest in 1979 before relocating to the shopping center on West Main Street. When Perman Engineering in Rainbow City purchased the shopping center last spring, the company approached current Alaco owner Amanda Divine about renovations in the fall. For four months, Alaco moved a few doors down into a temporary location while Perman Engineering updated its original building.
Divine’s roots in Alaco Pharmacy run deep. She began working at the pharmacy when she was just 16 years old, and after graduating pharmacy school she returned to work at several Alaco locations. Previous Alaco owner Bob Neal told Divine that whenever he felt ready to retire, he would call her. In 2019, Neal kept his promise, and the Glencoe High School graduate began to serve her hometown in a new position.
“I love to serve people,” said Divine. “It may sound a little cheesy to some people, but I really do – especially older people. I don’t think you’ll get the same service at larger chains. [If someone comes in and says] ‘this is a million dollars for this prescription’, [I’ll say] let’s talk about some options about what we can do to fix it. I love to fix things, fix problems and make it easier for people if I can.”
Divine’s vision for Alaco is that the pharmacy become a one-stop-shop where the community can come for all their needs. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed that process down, the pharmacy’s new layout includes a vaccination room to administer shots and drive-through. Customers can purchase more than just prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines via the drive-through – Alaco workers will gladly pull any items available for purchase in the pharmacy and fix customers an order.
Divine plans to join with a physician collaborative to dispense treatments, where community members can visit the pharmacy to pick up their antibiotics. Alaco Pharmacy now provides immunization services and will implement health care screenings (on and off site) for diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension. The pharmacy will also offer flu and strep screening onsite.
Though the shining new floors and fresh paint will impress visitors, the pharmacy’s cosmetic transformation never altered what Alaco treasures most – proving its customers with consistent, efficient and exceptional service. The old Alaco’s peaceful atmosphere lives on in its new environment, providing customers with that same familiar feeling of home as they walk through its doors. With a courteous staff dedicated to serving all who need their help, Alaco customers can relax with ease and the certainty that regardless of outside circumstances, the service within those pharmacy walls will never change.
“I’m hoping [the reopening] is a good way to rekindle the fire and get this pharmacy to take off and pick back up again,” said Divine. “We want to be that beacon in the community where if you need something, you can come here and we’ll figure out what we can do to fix it.”