COVID-19 era up and down for Cornerstone Pharmacy
The Cornerstone Pharmacy Compounding Laboratory’s pharmacy and compounding businesses are doing just fine in these days of COVID-19; its well-loved grill, not so much. Robin Reed, who co-owns Cornerstone with her sister, Lola Durbin, said lunch business has been off by between 75 to 90 percent since restaurants were closed for in-person dining March 16. “Yesterday, we didn’t even do $50,” Durbin said. Like many local eateries, the Cornerstone is offering meals via pick-up, curbside and delivery. Like other businesses, they’ve had to temporarily let workers go, though Durbin said the decision to lay off three part-time grill employees involved concerns that they were at greater risk of serious illness should they be exposed. She said she wasn’t sure if they were eligible to file for unemployment compensation, but would support them if they are. “I’d encourage them to, because we’ve never had unemployment drawn, so we’ve got a nice little stockpile …” Durbin said. Meanwhile, the remaining grill staff continues to offer coffee in the morning and chili, soup and many other items for lunch – though the type of soups has dropped from four to two because of greatly reduced demand. “It’s been different,” Durbin said. “We’re trying to abide by all the rules. We do the six-foot apart, we’re sanitizing all the doors, the handles – anybody comes in, we sanitize wherever they’ve been and touched.” Reed and Durbin said their customers have been supportive – and in turn, they’re trying to help other restaurants. “We appreciate that. We’ve supported The Rolling Oven today – they brought it over to us, dropped it at the front table and we all ate in here together. We’re just trying to do everything they told us to do,” Durbin said. Reed said she’d eaten at The Stave in Millville the evening before. “So we’re trying to support other people who are having harder times than we are,” Durbin said. On the other hand, business at the pharmacy – which is the Cornerstone’s main source of income – is, according to Durbin, “outrageous.” “I think because everybody’s panicking,” Reed said. “They’re panicking because they think that everything’s going to be a shortage, and … the wholesaler we use – he was in the day before yesterday – he assured us they’re strong, they have a huge inventory. You know, there are shortages all the time, (but) at this time, it’s not any worse than it always is.” Reed said she thought some reporting on the pandemic by the news media was leading people to get prescriptions filled before they need to, or without a doctor’s refill order. “It is what is,” Reed said. Asked if the new rules threatened the business they bought 20 years ago this month, Reed and Durbin said that depends on how long the pandemic – and the precautions taken to lessen its effects – lasts. “You know, a couple of weeks – okay. Couple of months, I don’t know,” Durbin said. “I hope people still continue to support all our businesses … (that are) solely relying on food. That’s it,” Durbin said. For now, they plan on keeping the grill open, and to deliver more than just prescriptions, like loaves of bread – and another item they’d rather not mention. “Don’t say toilet paper,” Reed said, laughing. “If people would quit panicking at the groceries, we’d all have plenty,” Durbin said.