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Somerset Pharmacy moving to Econofoods

The current location for Somerset's only pharmacy at 830 Rivard St. will be moving July 12 to Econofoods at 107 Parent St. The move will mark the last business tenant leaving the River Hills Commons buildings that opened in 2008.

In 2008 when Somerset Drug opened its doors in the new River Hills Commons business park, owner Ken Nelson thought it was the start of a trend.

At the time, the two new buildings would house several businesses -- Liquor Depot was the other occupant.

However, the park did not grow much beyond that.

"I think it was a combination of things," Nelson said. "This business development never really developed and I think it was because of the fall of the economy."

Although the adjacent BP gas station had been the first on the scene in January 2008, and the post office moved in on the other side of the business buildings in September 2009, it did not really boost the traffic.

So much so that Liquor Depot decided to move back to its original location on Main Street back in January 2010.

In a January 2010 interview, Mary Wallace, owner of Liquor Depot, said that although the River Hills Commons building was beautiful and she enjoyed being in a brand-new building, the decision to move was economic.

"The bottom line is that I need the traffic," Wallace said, after moving back to her current location at 350 Main St.

Now, Nelson can identify.

"We tried to stay here as long as we could, but traffic in this location did not materialize," he said.

He was approached by Nash Finch, owner of the Econofoods grocery stores, earlier this year with an offer to lease space in the Somerset Econofoods located at 107 Parent St.

The pharmacy, owned by Nelson and his wife Alex, will lease the space near the front of Econofoods that the service desk and video store previously occupied.

To make room for the pharmacy, Econofoods is renovating the space -- slightly smaller than the Somerset Drug's current space of 2,000 square feet -- to include a waiting area, direct pharmacy, and over-the-counter display area.

The service desk was moved closer to the existing cash registers and the video store was pared down and moved elsewhere in the building.

Mark Hein, manager of Somerset Econofoods, was excited about the new occupant.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Hein said. "They are very well-known in Somerset and it will be very convenient for shoppers."

Nelson said they will also "tweak" their current inventory, which includes party supplies and Hallmark cards, so they will not compete with Econofoods' inventory.

Somerset Drug plans to keep its doors open throughout the move, which is slated for July 12. They plan to keep their current hours of Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

"If we can grow the business, at some point we will offer weekend hours," Nelson said.

"We're very excited for the new phase of Somerset Drug's business," Jim Miles, pharmacy technician, commented.

Hein said that he was glad that they are able to help a local business.

"I think it will be a great partnership," Hein said

The remaining business in River Hills Commons -- BP gas station -- was taken over in April 2010 by American West and now operates as Bob and Steve's BP.

According to Steve Jerlow, president of American West, although they are leasing with the option to buy, they are not planning on going anywhere soon.

"It's sad to see businesses leave, but we are optimistic that things will turn around," Jerlow said. "Business has been really good, but it's nice when you have extra neighbors."