Vic Johnson has been a pharmacist for nearly 39 years, and for 10 of those years, he has owned and operated an independent pharmacy in south Augusta.
Johnson, owner of Living Well Pharmacy located at 3736 Mike Padgett Highway, near Food Lion and next door to Southern Family Medical Center, officially opened the business on March 20, 2013. His mom and dad helped him get started.
“We started from scratch and have been really successful here,” he said.
Unlike larger retail pharmacies, such as Walgreen’s and CVS, Johnson can spend more time educating his customers on the medications they have been prescribed and the importance of taking them daily. He said many pharmacists fill so many prescriptions that they don’t have time to provide those services.
“We try to get to know them; pharmacists are a wealth of knowledge,” Johnson said. “We enjoy working with people.”
Living Well also accepts most insurance plans. While Covid caused a variety of challenges, it also helped him gain more customers by offering the vaccine. He estimates he administered nearly 1,000 vaccines, and many of those patients became regular customers.
“Covid actually worked as advertising,” Johnson said.
Even before the pandemic, many insurance companies decreased the number of reimbursements they provided to pharmacists. He said in many cases, they don’t provide full reimbursement on newer, more expensive medications, forcing him to make the difficult decision to send his customers to other pharmacies to get those prescriptions filled.
“The reimbursements have gotten razor thin,” Johnson said. “You have to watch the pennies, or you’ll never see the dollars.”
At one time, he had a larger staff, but he currently has three pharmacy technicians.
Johnson had hoped to have a 10-year anniversary celebration last weekend, but he and his staff were so busy that he decided to move it to a Saturday afternoon in late April or early May, when the weather should be nicer.
“Even after being here for 10 years, people tell us, ‘we just never knew you were here,’” Johnson said.
He enjoys not only being a pharmacist, but also the business side of owning a pharmacy. Johnson keeps track of his numbers and handles payroll for his employees.
“There’s been so much enjoyment in being a business owner,” Johnson said.
Living Well Pharmacy is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. For more information, visit livingwellpharmacy.com/.