Bissell’s owner celebrates 40 years in Ridgefield

“I have a wonderful job here and I really enjoy it,” says Ed Karvosky.

Ed Karvosky celebrates his 40th year in town this year. Mr. Karvosky has been the owner of Bissell’s pharmacy since 1999. He previously worked at Ridgefield Pharmacy from 1973 until he purchased Bissell’s. —Steve Coulter photo

Ed Karvosky celebrates his 40th year in town this year. Mr. Karvosky has been the owner of Bissell’s pharmacy since 1999. He previously worked at Ridgefield Pharmacy from 1973 until he purchased Bissell’s. —Steve Coulter photo

Forty years, one business.

Some things have changed, others have not.

One figure that has remained a constant in town over that stretch of time is Ed Karvosky, owner of Bissell’s Pharmacy, who will celebrate his 40th year of working in town later this year.

Mr. Karvosky first came to Ridgefield in December 1973, when he started working for his older brother at Ridgefield Pharmacy.

Although he’s lived in Newton all these years, Mr. Karvosky considers Ridgefield a second home and couldn’t imagine not working in town.

“I have a wonderful job here and I really enjoy it,” he said. “My customers and my help make it a place I want to be during the day. Ridgefield is a place I like to be, and compared to other towns in the area, it’s just so unique and the support is unbelievable.”

He brought Bissell’s in December 1999 and a year later his brother sold Ridgefield Pharmacy to CVS.

“I wanted to own a store all along and I didn’t want to leave town,” Mr. Karvosky said. “It was a win-win situation.”

Ridgefield has four chain pharmacies: Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and Stop & Shop. However, Mr. Karvosky feels the competition has only made his business flourish.

“This town supports the local businesses, and even with four chains in town, people find they want to come here,” he said. “We take all the insurance companies, so what customers have found is, in terms of medications, it’s the same here as it is over there.”

Mr. Karvosky believes his customer service-centric business strategy is what separates him from the competition, as well as the history attached to his pharmacy’s name.

“Bissell’s has been here since the 1800s and the name has been there all these years — it’s always been a part of the community,” Mr. Karvosky said. “For my business, it’s always been about the service and knowing all the people over the years.”

He stresses the importance of getting to know his customers and their families on a first-name basis.

He added that trust, too, has been built over the years, because his business is “here every day.”

One of the customer service strategies he has always implemented, dating back to his days at Ridgefield Pharmacy in 1973, is to educate his customers about what they are purchasing.

“My whole goal in this business is, when someone gets a new prescription, they must know how to take it and what the side effects are,” Mr. Karvosky said. “They don’t leave the store unless they understand it.”

He maintains this strategy by marking every new prescription and discussing it with the person to make sure it’s exactly what they need.

In addition to this service, Mr. Karvosky has given back to the community by sponsoring sports teams and donating to local fund-raisers.

Despite his passion for Ridgefield, owning a business here hasn’t always been sunshine and smiles. In May 2005, Bissell’s 110-year-old Main Street building burned to the ground, causing him to relocate temporarily to the basement of Craig’s Fine Jewelry.

“It was scary when it happened,” he said. “But after a couple of days, we were doing OK, and I got a sense that we were going to make it through.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of the town.”

In 2007, the store moved to its new location at 23 Governor Street, where Mr. Karvosky has been able to expand the business.

What was originally 800 square feet of temporary space has grown into about 4,000 square feet, which includes a retail store upstairs — the Loft at Bissell’s — and the pharmacy downstairs.

As for Main Street, the former home of Bissell’s, Mr. Karvosky says he misses the exposure of his old location, but the positives of having a front-end parking lot have balanced out any negatives.

“I miss Main Street with the people walking by and stopping in, but the parking back here is so much easier,” he said. “Parking used to be a chore for our customers.”

Over the years, he has seen it all — corporate competition, fires, relocation — but he insists he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“We’ll be here,” he said. “We have a good relationship with our customers, and that has been built up through constant interaction and trust over many years. I have no reason to leave.”

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