COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) -- Over the years national chain pharmacies have helped to eliminate the small, independent stores.
For one Council Bluffs business the little guy is still king despite competition from the major drug stores.
Walk into Oard Ross Drug Store and you walk back to the way it was years ago. It’s an old school place where you can buy gifts. There’s a post office and penny candy – even though it doesn’t actually cost a penny anymore.
The store has been on the corner of 16th Avenue and S 7th Street for decades. A photograph from the 1940’s pictures Arthur Oard, one of the original owners. Co-owner Jim Ross is also in the photo. The kid in the middle is a then 14 year old Joe Beraldi.
“My job starting out was a delivery boy on my bicycle. You know what my salary was at that time? 10 cents an hour,” Beraldi said.
Joe is 91 years old, he owns the place now. Joe says the secret to competing with the major drug stores is personal service and loyal customers.
“The reason why we’re still here we have third and fourth generation customers,” he said.
Joann Holm is one of those customers. She’s been shopping at Oard Ross Drug Store for years.
“At least probably 20 years. Yeah, at least 20 years,” said Holm. “Yeah my dad and Joe knew my uncle.”
Joe’s son Tony now manages the pharmacy. Tony says they know most of the people who walk through the door.
“I do think it’s the personal touch. We know probably 95 percent of the people who walk in. We know them by first name and not only do we know them by name - we know them,” Tony said.
Joe and his son Tony now work side-by-side continuing to provide that personal touch and service that allows them to compete with the big stores and keeps his loyal customers coming back.
Both Joe and Tony Baraldi are graduates from Creighton University. Customers say that also adds to the stores home town feel.