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Food Town opens Kamas Pharmacy

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

Capitalistic societies, such as the United States, rely on competition within the market to keep prices low and to give options to consumers. Often, in small towns such as Kamas, there is one grocery store, one hardware store or one pharmacy.

The Kamas Food Town is trying to add a little competition in at least one of those markets by opening the city’s second pharmacy.

Harold Lish, the pharmacy manager and lead pharmacist at the new store, said that adding another pharmacy will lead to lower prices, better service and fewer Kamas Valley locals having to travel to Park City to fill prescriptions.

"What we’re attempting to do, and in no way do I want to disparage Hi Mountain [Drug], but what we’re attempting to do with the two pharmacies is give people the opportunity to go to a pharmacy here in Kamas rather than having to go to Park City," he said.

The store opened in mid-October and Lish said business has been good. Hi Mountain Drug, the other store in Kamas, is closed every Thursday and Sunday, while Kamas Pharmacy is only closed Sundays. Kamas Pharmacy is also open one hour later each work day, which Lish said gives more people the chance to get prescriptions after work.

"Our goal is that we want to capture the business that is currently forced to go out of the community," Lish said about the additional hours. "In a business like this it’s hard to close on a weekday. We’re just trying to fill a gap and perform a service that is more convenient for the people in the area.

Despite the seemingly adversarial relationship between the two stores, Lish said there is enough business to go around and that the current growth trends in the Kamas Valley support the idea of local business growth as well.

Lish estimated the Kamas Valley population, which he serves, to be roughly 3,500 and rising. In order for the new residential developments to survive, he said, the business community must grow as well.

"There’s room here for both of us if we can just keep people in our area," he said. "There’s something to be said for local independent pharmacies in their approach compared to chain pharmacies. It’s a different orientation of service that you’ll find here."

Lish said starting the new pharmacy was, in part, a response to comments made by Food Town patrons to executives of the store about the need for an additional pharmacy.

"It’s a statement that we hear constantly that people are glad they no longer have to go to Park City," he added. "The idea came because people kept coming to the executives of Food Town and asking why don’t they put in a pharmacy."

Lish and Kamas Pharmacy tried to speculate what types of drugs they should carry before the store opened. Lish said it’s rare that they can’t fill an order, and that if that’s the case, the pharmacy will order the items for future visits.

"We’re a full-service pharmacy," he said. "We’ll order any item we don’t have so you can get it here. We also work with most insurance companies."

Lish earned his degree from the University of Utah as a part of the class of 1957. The reason he wanted to go to pharmacy school was that he "wanted to own a store," he said. "I liked the medical field so pharmacy was the way I chose to go.

After graduation, he moved back to the state of his childhood home, California, where he grew up as a country boy outside of Sacramento. After four years there, he moved back to Utah to start a pharmacy in Salt Lake City, which he ran from 1961 to 1987.

Lish’s son-in-law, Jeff Smith, is also a pharmacist, and the two co-owned another pharmacy in Salt Lake from 1979 to 1991, when Lish moved to Heber City to run the pharmacy in the Smith’s Food and Drug store.

An injury forced him to take a year off in 2001, but he later operated another pharmacy in Salt Lake before deciding to help start Kamas Pharmacy in October.

"Food Town just had a little ad in the paper that they were looking for a pharmacy manager," he said. "I saw it and called and talked to one of the owners. I love this area and was excited to do it."

Lish wanted to move back to his small-town roots. He took the job in Kamas, moved his family to Oakley and said he has no complaints about their current situation.

"This is just perfect for me," he said. "I’m 10 minutes from the store and I love Oakley, I love the country. It’s been a total enjoyment for us. Both the home and the job are exactly what I want."

"The reception that I’ve had here has been wonderful," he added "It’s been a very pleasant transition. The people here are just so friendly. I just love it here."

Kamas Pharmacy is located inside the Food Town at 145 West 200 South in Kamas. The pharmacy can be reached at (435) 783-4316 and is open from 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.


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