Erin Merritt, Owner, Pharmacist, Modern Apothecary
How long have you lived and/or worked in Kenosha County?
I was born and raised in Kenosha. I attended Friedens Lutheran School, McKinley Middle School, and Tremper High School. I attended UW-Parkside for the majority of many undergraduate courses. I had to fit in all of my prerequisites for pharmacy school into two years, so I also took courses at UW-Milwaukee, Carthage College, Gateway, and an online public speaking course (weird, I know). I went to pharmacy school at Midwestern University-Chicago College of Pharmacy in Downers Grove, IL. After graduation, I moved back to the north side of Kenosha.
Describe a day in the life of Erin (as it pertains to you personally, or your career):
My husband and I have been foster parents to two fantastic children for almost 4 years now. After I get Elijah on the bus to kindergarten and Sierra dropped off for Pre-K, I get to work around 8:15. I am currently the only pharmacist right now, as we have only been open for a couple of months, so I am here anytime the store is open. My day can run from filing prescriptions, compounding medications, and counseling patients to dusting shelves, helping patients find a certain product on the shelves, and running the cash register. I also have to deal with the back end of the operation including dealing with insurance companies for reimbursement, employee payroll, and ordering stock for the front of the store as well as prescription medications and raw materials for compounding. My favorite part of my job is helping patients. It is incredibly rewarding to have a patient come back and tell you that something you did helped in some way, whether that be monetarily, physically, or just helping them better understand and control their disease. Even though I work long hours and am here 6 days a week, I am incredibly happy and wouldn’t change a thing. At the end of the day after we close, I go home and tuck my kids into bed, talk to my husband for an hour or so, go to bed, and do it all over again.
What makes Kenosha County a great place to work and play?
Kenosha has a fabulous lakefront and is conveniently located between Milwaukee and Chicago. I also both love and hate that everyone knows everyone in Kenosha. I love it most of the time, but hate it when I am trying to run into the grocery store in sweatpants when I am gross and sweaty and/or sick for a gallon of milk and see at least 15 people I know and have to chat with before I make it out. Kenosha also has fantastic local restaurants and great local parks.
Why did you select downtown Kenosha for your new business, Modern Apothecary?
A few reasons, first there was a need for a pharmacy downtown. With more and more people living and working downtown, a pharmacy in the area is a huge convenience. I also wanted the pharmacy to be unique and have a vintage appeal. I felt that the best place to accomplish that would be an area with character and a diverse mix of people. Our downtown not only has a good assortment of businesses, historic buildings, but a great lakefront to go along with it. I love that I can see the Southport Lighthouse from the front windows of the pharmacy. Lastly, I have always loved this building. Prior to pharmacy school, I dreamed of having my own pharmacy and picked out this building as my location. It is a beautiful building and I loved the fact that it was home to several pharmacies for more than fifty years. We have gotten so many wonderful stories
What is your favorite Kenosha County event/activity?
Any of the downtown summer activities…The Harbor Market, Kenosha Pops concerts, Peanut Butter & Jam Concerts, Taste of Wisconsin, and the list goes on! Winter events downtown are fun too, I just prefer warmer weather.
What is one thing you would like to see improved in Kenosha County?
I would like to see more people appreciate what Kenosha has to offer. I think that for a long time, people were really excited about Kenosha being large enough to finally get the chain stores and restaurants, which, admittedly, are convenient and nice to have. When I went to school in Illinois, I lived in a western suburb of Chicago. Any chain store or restaurant imaginable was located within 15 minutes, but if you wanted something local, they were few and far between. I would have done some crazy things, possibly donating a kidney, to have a good pizza, Italian bread or Chinese food while I was there. If I wanted to eat at a non-chain restaurant or shop at locally-owned store, I would have to go into Chicago. However, in Kenosha, we have so many fantastic local business and restaurants. The best part is you don’t have to drive 45 minutes or pay big city prices!
What about Kenosha are you most proud of?
I have been really impressed with how welcoming and supportive people have been since I have opened. I am proud to part of a community that is big enough to have chain stores, but small enough to want to see local businesses survive. It has also been great to see people appreciate the history and nostalgia of the building. It has been so much fun to listen stories of people who used to live and/or work in the neighborhood and remember this as a pharmacy.
Who inspires you locally?
I have drawn inspiration from many people. It would be hard to choose just one. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive throughout this entire process. They are also willing to tell me when I am wrong (even if I might be a little defensive and irritable for a little bit) and have guided me towards ideas and in directions I would have never thought of on my own. I also draw inspiration from many of the successful women business owners in Kenosha.