Reimbursement system affects independent pharmacy wing of Hopkinton’s one-stop shop

  • Pharmacy technician Christy Reardon works on prescriptions at the Health Mart Pharmacy in downtown Contoocook on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Chris Plourde of Webster shops at the Colonial Village Supermarket and Health Mart Pharmacy in downtown Contoocook. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The outdoor sign for the Colonial Village Supermarket and Health Mart Pharmacy in downtown Contoocook. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor Staff
Published: 10/1/2022 10:57:23 AM
Modified: 10/1/2022 10:53:04 AM

Colonial Village, an all-under-one-roof store, sits in the heart of Hopkinton’s business district in Contoocook village.

The white building with its forest green accents houses a supermarket, a pharmacy and dry cleaner. It first opened its doors to the public in 1983, but only as a pharmacy and has continued to grow as a hub of the community.

“It’s nice to have something great in town that’s local and they have everything we need, they have even the random supplies all the way to the everyday groceries,” said Austin Holdner, a previous employee who has been coming to the Colonial Village for years.

Owner Marc Fournier’s father, a pharmacist by trade, started the business. As they established themselves in town and built a strong customer base, they expanded their product line beyond medicines. With business picking up,they decided to buy the grocery store next door and incorporate every day staples into their business.

The store aisles offer a diverse selection of products, from fresh produce to hardware supplies to personal care items and Halloween décor. According to Fournier, one customer stated, “if Colonial doesn’t have it, you don’t need it.”

In 2014, Fournier opened Colonial Cleaners, a dry cleaning business in the same plaza as the supermarket and pharmacy.

“I wanted the cleaners to have large washers and dryers to accommodate for the people in the community who have large drapes and linens,” said Fournier.

His days at work are never the same -- sometimes Fournier stocks shelves and checks inventory, while on other days, he fixes computer problems or assists his employees.

He runs the business with his brother, David Fournier. Although the family-run business plays a vital role in the community for people who don’t have to run to Concord or Warner for food or medicine, they struggle with one wing of the business – operating as an independent pharmacy.

Like other independent pharmacy owners, they said the complicated reimbursement system can make them wait anywhere from 30 to 45 days to be paid for a prescription. In addition, their costs are higher than larger pharmacies that negotiate prices with insurance companies.

“We pay more for our medications to come into our store and they don’t pay us back what we deserve in insurance reimbursements,” Fournier said.

These economic forces had led to several recent closures, including the Warner Pharmacy in July; the Penacook Pharmacy, which shut in April after 53 years; and Granite State Pharmacy in Concord, which closed in 2020 after a decade as the successor to Modern Pharmacy, which had been there 40 years. While the chaos of the pandemic played a role in the decisions, all three owners placed much of the blame on systems by which pharmacies acquire patients and get paid.

About one-third of all pharmacies around the country are independent but that’s far from true in New Hampshire. The 2011 digest listed just 11 independents in New Hampshire, two of which have since closed.

The community’s support for Colonial Village, particularly during the pandemic, has helped the pharmacy stay afloat, and Fornier said he want to give back to the community. Fournier expressed regret that sometimes he is in a situation where he cannot fill a customer’s prescription for a drug because he won’t be reimbursed.

Despite the difficulty of remaining open as an independent pharmacy, Fournier pledged to be there for his customers.

“I want to give the support right back and stay open for them,” he said.

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