Sear's Pharmacy, under the sign of the moose head/photo: David Hammond

Our family’s prescriptions have been filled at Walgreen’s for decades. But now, I’ve switched over to Sear’s Pharmacy. We’ve driven past Sear’s many hundreds of times over the years. Just about every time we went by, I thought to myself, “I should switch my prescriptions over to Sear’s.”  I finally did, and here’s why I switched over to Sear’s:

  • I like that Sear’s is a small, mom-and-pop operation. Given the choice, I’d rather throw my dollars to a smaller business than to a larger corporate chain. It’s getting harder for the little places to survive, and the big corporate stores – Walgreens and CVS – well, they’ll do just fine without my business. Plus, I like the candy bar selection at the Sear’s front counter.*
  • I like not having to wait in line at Sear’s. At Walgreen’s on Madison in Oak Park, I’m going to guesstimate that my average wait time to pick up a prescription was maybe 7-10 minutes. At Sear’s, there’s usually no waiting: they do less business than Walgreens, of course, and there seem to be two pharmacists behind the counter most of the time, so…no waiting.  As an added benefit, you can pick up your prescriptions curbside or, if you’re local, have medications delivered to your home, no charge.
  • I like the moose head logo. Resident pharmacist Thomas Rains explains that his family enjoys camping in Maine, Nova Scotia, and other wilderness areas. His wife, Amy, suggested a moose head on the signage, so that’s what they somewhat randomly settled upon. I also appreciate the idiosyncratic hand-made signage, like the poem that’s currently in the window: “Welcome to our store/It’s nice and cold/We value your time/Like it was gold/We bathe when we can/To appease the old man/So come in and lo and behold.” This is not a corporation with a public relations department; this is a small business with a personality.

And here’s why I’m done with Walgreens.

  • I did not like that one of the one main strengths of Walgreens – a huge inventory of non-pharmaceutical merch – seemed less a reality every time I visited. They just did not routinely carry stuff that I’d go there to get, stuff that they used to have all the time, specifically brand favorites like Tom’s toothpaste and deodorant, Mack’s earplugs, some of the contact lens solutions I need on a regular basis. For a few years now, I’ve been buying all this stuff on ebay for like a 50% discount: it’s always stocked and delivered to my door. At Walgreens, I never knew, from visit-to-visit, if what I went there for would actually be there for me.
  • I did not like the fact that it seemed every time I went into Walgreens, I had a new pharmacist. I got the impression that maybe this was a training store and that Walgreen’s corporate ran new hires through there to help them learn the trade. Nothing wrong with that, people need to be trained, but I grew weary of dealing with a new face every time I went in, and sometimes the young faces didn’t quite seem to know what they were doing.
  • I did not like Walgreens’ threat to exercise a tax inversion strategy and move some of their corporate business to Europe. They changed their mind about this particular type of tax avoidance (after much public outcry and pressure from state government) and Walgreens decided to stay, but their questionable loyalty to the local economy (they’re based in Deerfield) caused me to question my loyalty to them.

My experience with Sear’s is limited, but I feel very comfortable with the somewhat old-timey feel of the place, the very fast and personalized service, and the vibe.

Switching pharmacies was effortless; I just let the receptionist at my doctor’s office know I was changing pharmacies and they took care of everything in about a minute. Sear’s filled my first prescription in 2-3 hours; Walgreens has rarely if ever filled a prescription for me so quickly.

Our friend and Oak Parker Jane Schoen remembered that “We’ve been going to Sear’s since they were located on the corner of Scoville and Madison. Andrew threw up on their counter and they didn’t blink an eye. They also opened after hours for an emergency prescription.” Sounds like the kind of place I want to do business with and the kind of place I’d like to keep in Oak Park.

Sear’s Pharmacy

1003 Madison Street


*Obligatory food reference.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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