EATON — Stephen Barnes didn’t go into the business for which his family is so well-known in the Eaton area, but he has come home to bring a family-business feel to his role as Pharmacy Manager at Eaton’s recently remodeled Marsh Supermarket.
A 1988 Eaton High School graduate, Barnes helped open the new Marsh pharmacy in January. He previously worked as a community pharmacist with another retailer in Dayton. In his two decades in the pharmacy business, Barnes has worked primarily for chain retailers and as a retail pharmacist in Lewisburg for the drug wholesaler Miami-Luken.
“This opportunity with Marsh came up, and it really was what I envisioned a traditional hometown pharmacy to be,” Barnes said. “I like to be able to spend time with customers in a store with a real mom-and-pop feel. This gives me that. And, it’s good to return home to work in the community in which I was raised. I’m serving people, many of which I’ve known all my life.”
Barnes, who earned his B.S. in pharmacy from Ohio Northern University in 1993, lives in Lewisburg with his wife Lori (Nelson) Barnes, who is originally from West Alexandria, and their two children. His parents, Robert C. and Sharon (Shaw) Barnes, are well-known in the area through the funeral home. Robert is a third-generation funeral director, and Sharon is a retired music teacher from Eaton City Schools. “Everybody knows Mrs. Barnes the music teacher,” her son said.
Actually, the Barnes name is familiar even beyond Eaton because it’s on funeral-home businesses in Lewisburg, New Paris, Eldorado and Camden, too. “The family funeral business began 110 years ago by my great-grandfather, L.P. Barnes,” Steve Barnes said. “Now, everyone in my immediate family, including my father, mother, brother, sister-in-law, uncle and cousin are funeral directors.”
Barnes wanted to pursue other interests, and his parents supported his decision. “I wanted to have a career in healthcare. I found that pharmacist jobs in the late ’80s were plentiful and salaries were pretty good,” he said.
Barnes also was influenced by childhood memories of the local pharmacist. “As I look back, I was always intrigued as a young boy going into Campbell’s drugstore and seeing Sam Hubbell behind the back counter mixing up medicines, and Alice at the long counter ringing the sale. It was like stepping back into another era, when excellent service was paramount to any business,” Barnes said.
“I respect and admire entrepreneurs, such as my parents, who built their name and reputation on trust and relationships over decades of service,” Barnes added. “I want to continue to offer the same exemplary service to my pharmacy customers which the residents of Preble County have associated with the Barnes family for over a hundred years.”
And that, Barnes says, is what appealed to him about the Marsh pharmacy opportunity. “You don’t feel like you’re in a pharmacy tucked away in a huge store where you have no time to interact with customers,” he said. “Here I actually get to speak with people, get to know them by name, and build trusting relationships. It’s like owning my own store.”
Marsh opened the pharmacy at 223 Aukerman Street in its ongoing effort to “give customers the best shopping experience available.” The opening followed just two months after the Eaton store held a ribbon cutting for its $1 million remodel. This pharmacy is the chain’s first in Ohio, which has pharmacies in 37 of its Indiana stores.
The pharmacy counter is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 7, Saturday 9 to 5, and Sunday from 11 to 5, and closed on holidays. If customers have questions about over-the-counter medicines, Barnes said he can step from behind the counter and talk with them about those.
Shoppers who take advantage of the pharmacy counter will find that Barnes isn’t the only familiar face behind they’ll see. Pharmacist Lisa Alladeen, also an Ohio Northern graduate, has worked as a pharmacist in the Eaton community for several years, as has certified pharmacy technician Morgan Baker.
Those familiar faces have been well-received in Eaton, said Marsh store manager Matt Sutherland, who adds that he has customers who come to the store because of Barnes. “He definitely knows the clientele,” Sutherland says. “It’s been a great help.”
As for Barnes, he’s enjoyed getting back in touch with his hometown. He’s walked the downtown areas of Eaton, West Alexandria, Lewisburg and other areas to make sure people are aware of the Marsh pharmacy. “It’s been fun doing that and seeing people I haven’t seen in a while,” he said.