Frank Calvo, the new pharmacist at White’s Drug and Department Store in Montauk, said he’s a familiar face in a different setting. Mr. Calvo owned the East Hampton Pharmacy for eight years and the Bridgehampton Pharmacy for one year before the economy tanked and he was forced to sell.
“It was very sad,” he said from his elevated post behind the registers at White’s, where he has a bird’s-eye view of all who enter the store.
CVS pharmacy bought him out but never opened in either space. “They wanted to consolidate the competition,” he said, explaining that as part of the buyout he had to work the pharmacy in the East Hampton CVS for at least three months.
“Emotionally, it was grueling to see all my old customers there in CVS,” he said.
From there he moved on to the pharmacy department in Rite Aid in Bridgehampton for a year and a half. And it was there that he was approached by Deryn Trott, the owner of White’s, who asked if he would be interested in a job in the Montauk store.
A resident of Springs, Mr. Calvo jumped at the chance and hasn’t regretted a day since. He started at the end of October and found he really enjoyed working for an independently owned store.
“I love it. It’s nice being back in a community. I have time to spend with the customers. When they come to see me they’re sick, and I need to help them as soon as possible.” He said he was surprised when some residents showed a bit of shock when he asked if they would like to wait while he fills their prescriptions. “I don’t think they were used to that.”
This week Mr. Calvo is meeting with a group of senior citizens at the Montauk Playhouse Community Center for a brown-bag seminar at which he has asked them to pack up and bring all their medications to go through together. As part of an outreach program he plans to expand upon, he expects to take the time and discuss the seniors’ insurance policies and explain to them about federal and state programs that might be beneficial, as well as what medications might need prior approval before they are filled.
A delivery service outside the hamlet, mainly for customers who have recently moved to the St. Michael’s senior citizens’ housing project in Amagansett, is also in his plans. And he’d like to get back the customers who have moved on to other pharmacies for various reasons.
Montauk is a different Hampton, Mr. Calvo said. He likes being part of a smaller community and is considering buying a house there to embed himself further. A pharmacist for 23 years, he takes a personal approach with his customers. He called the position challenging but not hard. “You just need to have compassion.”
Since Montauk is the eastern end of Long Island, Ms. Trott has found it difficult to keep a pharmacist willing to make the commute to the only pharmacy in the hamlet. The expression of relief on her face since she found Mr. Calvo, who will probably stay for a while, is very rewarding, the new pharmacist said, smiling.
The pharmacy at White’s is open every day but Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are two other part-time pharmacists who fill in on Mr. Calvo’s days off. He would like to expand the store hours and maybe move the pharmacy to another part of the store so he could work a little bit more quietly, away from the center of things. There’s a good chance he’ll be accommodated.