MERRILL - Big name stores dominate many small towns. But in Merrill, one store owner thinks bigger isn't always better.
Forrest Young owns Hometown Pharmacy in Merrill.
At the end of last year, it moved from Main Street to East Second Street.
The new spot isn't far from the old one, but it has on-site parking and a drive-through.
That makes it convenient, just like big chains.
But Young says he offers something different.
"The main thing is customer service. We know that vast majority of our customers by name when they come in here," he says. "We've had instances in the past where people switch over, and they're just taken aback by how quickly we learn their names and treat them as if they've been coming to our pharmacy forever."
Hometown Pharmacy moved into Merrill about three years ago.
The store attracts a lot of seniors, but Young hopes the new spot will attract a new crowd.
"People that prefer a Walmart, Walgreens type of experience are younger, they prefer being able to get in and out quicker, do some shopping while they're in there," Young says. "So we're hoping that with the middle school and the grocery store, we'll attract some of the younger customers, that we can grow with them, as well as make it easier access for our older customers."
Young was renting the Main Street store, but bought this building.
He says he plans on being in Merrill for a long time.
RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.
The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.
Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.
The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has selected a former legislator to run the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walker's office announced Monday that he has chosen former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer to serve as DNR secretary. He replaces Cathy Stepp, who resigned in August to take a position in President Donald Trump's administration.
RHINELANDER - A large open lot on Rhinelander's east side could soon fill in with a chain restaurant.
Cory Moritz-Hoffmann and her husband hope to build a Pizza Ranch next to Kwik Trip on Eisenhower Parkway. The pair of former Pine Lake firefighters got the idea about six years ago when they first went to a Pizza Ranch in Iowa.
They considered pursing a franchise then, but it was more than they could afford at the time. About two years ago, the Hoffmanns contacted an investor and saw an opportunity to turn their dream into a reality.
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