You might describe the Calcaterra family as the first family of Southern Illinois pharmacies. With three registered pharmacists in the family and an equal number of local drug stores, the Calcaterras have been meeting the region’s pharmaceutical needs for nearly have a century.
“My father, Fred Calcaterra, graduated from pharmacy school in 1971,” explains Pharmacist Ben Calcaterra. “After graduation, he went to work for LeQuatte Drugs in Herrin.”
The company had several locations when the elder Calcaterra purchased the pharmacies in the early 1980s. He sold two pharmacies, choosing to focus on the Carterville store, now known as Family Drug. At age 69, he continues to operate the pharmacy.
Calcaterra’s son Ben originally planned on a career in medicine. Following a year of pre-med studies, he chose the same career as his father, transferring to St. Louis Pharmacy School.
“It was always an option for me,” Ben explains, of a career in pharmaceutical science. “I grew up with it and it’s always been comfortable for me. It was an easy choice to go down that path.”
Upon his own graduation in 2002, he opened Logan Primary Pharmacy in Herrin. A few years later, the family entered an agreement with Southern Illinois Healthcare to manage the pharmacy located inside the Carbondale Clinic, now known as the Center for Medical Arts. Ben’s wife, Katie, served as the lead pharmacist at the facility, called Carbondale Family Pharmacy.
“At this point in 2009, we had my wife running our Carbondale store, my dad was running our Carterville store and I was running the Logan store,” Ben explains.
He says earlier this year renovation plans for the Center for Medical Arts gave the family an opportunity to find a new location. In June, the newly branded Family Drugs on Carbondale’s west side at the corner of West Main Street and New Era Road. Ben says the move has been good for business.
“Honestly, our previous space was very small and cramped with no drive-through and no external signage, so people either didn’t know we were there or they thought you had to be a patient in the facility to use the pharmacy.” He continues, “Moving was really beneficial for us as far as gaining some more visibility and adding in some extra services that patients really like including a drive-through.”
He says the new Carbondale pharmacy aims to provide service to stand out.
“We want to provide a service that goes above and beyond what the big box chain pharmacies provide,” he says, adding that he hopes to be part of a business resurgence on the city’s west side.
“I want to see ours and other businesses grow, especially on that west end. We are proud to be able to provide a new business for the area.”
All three Calcaterras are stressing personal attention, he says.
“We are proud to take a customer’s problem and be able to solve it no matter what it takes rather than having to conform to corporate rules and protocols and structures. We’re able to work with patients to find the best insurance plans and options as well as providing free delivery service.
Ben adds that the pharmacy also offers a convenient prepackaging service.
“Let’s say you’re taking ten medications a day,” he explains. “We are able to provide all of your morning medications in one little cellophane pouch, labeled with the day and time you are to take them. Customers get a full strip of pre-dosed medication.”
However, he says what makes all three of the family’s pharmacies different is personal service.
“We try to go above and beyond to foster relationships with our patients so that we can help them have the absolute best outcomes possible. We want to be the people that provide answers.”
And are there other Calcaterra pharmacists on the horizon? He says he’s not sure — yet.
“We have twins that are 4- and a 6-year-old girl,” he says. “They actually come into the pharmacy and 'help' with customers and they love it already, so we’ll see what the future holds.”