CDA backs $105K city loan for Port pharmacy

Panel says revolving fund should be tapped for independent drugstore in former Pizza Hut building

MICHAEL VINEBURG stood in front of the former Pizza Hut restaurant on Port Washington’s North Wisconsin Street, which he is in the process of turning into an independent pharmacy. Press file photo
Ozaukee Press staff

The City of Port Washington should provide a $105,000 revolving fund loan for Port Family Pharmacy, an independent drugstore being created in the former Pizza Hut building, the Community Development Authority recommended Monday.

CDA members cited the value of having an independent pharmacy in the community as they recommended the loan.

“It’ll be good to see a boutique business up there,” committee member Rory Palubiski said

“It’s a needed business,” CDA Chairman Bill Prince said. “It’s a great proposition to have a local pharmacy. We miss the one we used to have.”

The pharmacy will also be a good use for the building, which might otherwise remain vacant for the foreseeable future, officials said.

Kathleen Cady Schilling, executive director of Ozaukee Economic Development, which reviews loan applications for the city, said the funds will be used by pharmacy owner Michael Vineburg to renovate the building, purchase equipment and for working capital.

The funds will be borrowed for 10 years at 2% interest, with principal payments deferred for six months, as is standard with most revolving loans issued by the city, she said.

Vineburg, who plans to open the pharmacy in August, is expected to hire three full-time positions within two years as a condition of the loan.

Vineburg, who is a pharmacist, told the committee that includes a pharmacist and two certified pharmacy technicians, one who would be in charge of retail operations and the other to work with long-term care facilities.

The technicians would also work in the compounding lab, making prescriptions from scratch, he said.

Palubiski asked if the pharmacy will carry homeopathic medications, and Vineburg said he will.

“It’s going to be a nice melding between those two ideologies,” he said.

Schilling noted that the pharmacy would be the only one in Port and serve not only the city but many communities north of Port Washington, since they don’t have drugstores.   

“The focus for an independent pharmacy is service,” she said, noting that’s especially important in a community like Port that has an aging population, members of which are likely to have multiple prescriptions.

Vineburg also plans to work with long-term care facilities, whose residents also typically have multiple prescriptions, to offer on-site health services and a mobile coumadin clinic.

“Independent pharmacies have seen significant growth (12.9%) in the U.S. over the past 10 years as customers look for increased customer service dealing with complex health issues,” Cady Schilling wrote in a report to  the CDA.

Former Mayor Marty Becker, who for decades owned the independent Port Apothecary and is working with Vineburg, told the CDA that the personal touch allows independent drugstores to prosper against big box pharmacies.

“That personal touch is what matters,” he said.

Becker said Vineburg’s experience working as manager of Ye Olde Pharmacy in Cedarburg, which is an independent drugstore, is invaluable.

“That’s the model you want,” Becker said.

Prince asked owner Michael Vineburg, “How competitive can you be with the big boxes like Walmart and Walgreens?”

For many of the “mainstay” drugs that most people take, “you can get pretty close,” Vineburg said.

He noted that he will also offer delivery service.

Cady Schilling noted that Vineburg’s business plan calls for the pharmacy to operate in the red for the first two months and to begin to turn a profit in the third month.

CDA member Rick Sternhagen asked if that is too aggressive a plan, but Vineburg said he believes it is on point, especially since Port doesn’t have any other pharmacies.

Cady Schilling noted that the city’s revolving loan fund has about $645,000 in it, but $150,000 is committed to Inventor’s Brewpub.

If the Common Council approves the loan for the pharmacy, she said, the fund will still have a little more than $400,000.

“You would still have enough money to grant more loans,” she said, adding that she doesn’t know of any other potential lenders right now.

All of the city’s loans are current, Cady Schilling said.

The Common Council will consider the loan request when it meets July 5, Bob Harris, the city’s director of planning and development, said.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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