Closeness of Norvelt Pharmacy owners, workers, customers makes everyone feel like kin

| Sunday, March 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Big isn't necessarily always better, just ask Peter and Robin Maida, pharmacists, owners and operators of the Norvelt Pharmacy.

A family-run business, Norvelt Pharmacy has been operated by a member of the Maida family since it opened its doors 52 years ago, and the comfort and quaintness that made the pharmacy so popular is still evident today.

“I really can't imagine being anywhere but here in Norvelt,” Peter Maida said of the business and his profession.

Maida said that although he lives in Greensburg, he was born and raised in the little town in Mt. Pleasant Township and will always consider it home.

“My roots are here,” Peter Maida said. “I could sell tomorrow and go anywhere that I want to go, but I choose to stay right here.”

The pharmacy is on Mt. Pleasant Road in Norvelt and was originally located across the street from where it presently stands.

“My parents started this business,” Peter Maida said of Peter and Sari Lux Maida, who operated their pharmacy at the original location for years before it was destroyed by fire in 1978.

The Maidas also owned the property across the road from the ruined site and, never missing a beat, temporarily moved their business until a new pharmacy could be built on the vacant lot.

The new pharmacy opened for business in 1979 and has remained at the site since.

Peter Maida joined his parents in business in 1990, then made an offer to purchase the business as his own in 1995.

Peter Maida met his wife Robin while the two attended the University of Toledo. The pair set up shop together, working side by side in the pharmacy on a daily basis.

Originally from Cleveland, Robin Maida was pleasantly surprised by the hometown charm and friendliness of the people when she moved here.

“Robin was a little shocked when she first moved here,” Peter Maida said. “It was a big adjustment for her, but a good one. She just couldn't get over how friendly everyone was and how good-natured people are around here.”

While other pharmacies might offer extra services or retail items, Norvelt Pharmacy focuses on taking care of the prescriptions and health concerns of their customers.

“It's all about our customers. That is our main focus here,” Robin Maida said. “They know us and we know them, and knowing them and knowing about them is a very important part of our business.”

The business is manned by the Maidas and two part-time clerks. They handle everything as they enjoy the closeness and comfort shared across the board by staff and customers.

“We know just about everyone that comes in here by name,” clerk Nancy Logan said. “It's a very friendly atmosphere.”

“We see everyone that comes in and we see them when they leave,” Robin Maida said. “There isn't a large group of clerks or pharmacy techs who handle your prescription. We do it ourselves.”

Peter Maida said that he always enjoys when there are several customers in the pharmacy at the same time because, chances are, they know each other.

“Where else can you go and see people waiting and standing around talking to each other about their lives and catching up,” Peter Maida said.

Peter Maida stressed that really knowing your customer is essential to being a quality pharmacist.

“You have to know your customer,” Peter Maida said. “You have to know them, know their history and be willing to take the time to make sure that what they have been prescribed is something that they can take, and if not, then call their doctor and see what they can take. It's up to us to make that call. Other places may tell you that you have to call your doctor, but that is what your pharmacist is supposed to do.”

Another plus to the pharmacy is the attention that is paid immediate to each customer.

“A 15-minute wait here is a long wait,” Robin Maida said. “We usually have you in and out, but if there is a wait, it's never a long one.”

The Maidas accept and work with most medical insurances, keep their prices right in range with the larger facilities, but feel the personal touch and friendly atmosphere of their little pharmacy is priceless.

“My roots are in pharmacy and my heart is here in Norvelt,” Peter Maida said. “Making a point of knowing everyone is just my style. It's our style of caring and it's our way to be the best at what we do.”

Norvelt Pharmacy is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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