Ordway Pharmacy celebrates centennial

Saturday, July 31, 2004

MONTEREY, Calif. - Ordway Drugs and Medical Supplies, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last month, has persevered through wars and depressions and most recently has staved off potentially crippling competition from national chains. Its success, says its owner, is a combination of understanding its customers needs and a willingness to step out of the mold.

“You can’t just sit on your laurels and figure that’s the way it’s going to be,” said owner Vince Cardinale. “What I try to do is stay ahead of the curve.”

Turning to durable medical equipment has been one of the pharmacy’s survival strategies. Ordway Drugs has cast itself as the “go-to” store for health care products in the aging Monterey community. Cardinale started stocking the shelves with a myriad of health supplies, including wheelchairs, walkers, hosiery and braces, as a way to distinguish the business from national competitors.

“Everyone is selling shaving cream and cold medication, so it’s kind of a liquidated presence,” he said. “That’s why I almost eliminated those sections. We tried to pick up on every end so that we can get away from the regular merchandise.”

The company emphasizes its durable medical equipment business, creating a service and convenience not available at Walgreens, which opened two blocks away in 2002, said Cardinale.

“We are really tailored toward the seniors and nobody else does what we do in our area,” he said.

Ordway also compounds prescriptions and has employed the latest pharmacy technology to help fill as many as 700 prescriptions a day.

“Technology has changed the business dramatically,” said Cardinale. “If something new comes up. We are ready to try it.”

This shift toward health services has helped the company endure. It is one of the few independent pharmacies remaining in the area and one of the largest in all of California.

“There were seven or eight independents around here at the turn of the 20th century, now Ordway is the only one left,” said spokesperson David Lee. “Ordway has done a masterful job in the last couple years finding a very important niche in the community.”