Harmony Pharmacy Opens Airport Store At Newark

The first-ever pharmacy within a U.S. airport opened its doors this week in Newark, N.J.--and founder and CEO Ken Corroon, who was at the store's Terminal C location at Newark's Liberty International Airport at the opening, says early indications are auspicious. "Folks were immediately coming up and saying, 'I'm sick,' or 'I have a sore throat,' and we hadn't opened the center yet ... there's a real big demand."

Indeed. And what Corroon's company, Harmony Pharmacy & Health Center, is hoping to do as it lays the groundwork for what it plans will be 100 such pharmacies nationwide, is to tap a nascent market for travelers and airport workers, who spend their days in what amounts to an immense, enclosed city with--at least in the U.S.--no pharmacies.

As reported in Marketing Daily earlier this week, a number of pharmacies--including CVS/Pharmacy and Walgreen's--are opening clinics in their stores. But none have ventured into an airport. Corroon says the nearly hermetic thoroughfares of an air terminal constitute the perfect ecosystem for his business model, based on a high level of personal service and speed.



Harmony's European-styled and service-oriented retail environment will fill most of its prescriptions for airport employees while selling over-the-counter drugs and apothecary fare to travelers. Corroon says the clinic will also operate an in-store clinic staffed by physician's assistants or nurse practitioners, who can order tests, perform diagnostics and prescribe medicines.

Corroon says the pharmacy has grabbed a niche because the 24 million-plus travelers passing through the terminal each year will--thanks to post-9/11 security measures--do so without gels, toothpaste and a lot of other cosmetic and hygienic products. Since the pharmacy is on the so-called air side of the terminal, such products are saleable. Also, the pharmacy will deliver prescriptions anywhere in the airport.

A former investment banker, Corroon launched the business in 2005 with a Long Island physician. While he conceded that bureaucratic hurdles lengthened the development process, the company expects to open four more pharmacies this year at airports in Texas, Atlanta and New York. The company is also planning stores in venues beyond airports. Harmony Pharmacy is working with financial partner MVC Capital.

"There's a real opportunity to provide a diversified product mix," says Corroon. "Most U.S. chain pharmacies are much more value-oriented and less about the shopping experience and customer service. The focus [here] is on service and a differentiated product mix, with high-end products that you just don't see in pharmacies."

Continental will promote Harmony in its in-flight magazine, per Corroon--who says he expects comparatively little prescription business from travelers.

"There are 25,000 employees at the airport; it's a city in itself, and we are the local pharmacist," he says, adding that Harmony will deliver all prescriptions within the airport. "For employees, people who are busy working, you have to be customer-service oriented. But in order to cater to business travelers, you have to also be focused on moving quickly."

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