Joe’s Pharmacy is back.

No matter what name has been placed on the drug store across from the Peralta Elementary School, people in the area called it Joe’s.

Leon Otero has restored the business to the name his father, Joe Otero, gave it when he opened the store in 1967.

“Since so many people knew it as Joe’s and everyone called it by that name, no matter what name was on it, I decided to keep it that way,” Otero said of the business which has returned to being family-owned-and-operated.

Otero decided to keep the store alive after Horizon Pharmacy, the last corporate owner since Joe Otero sold the business in the 1980s, sold the store’s drug stock and patients records to Smith’s Supermarket in January.

“Once we decided to go it alone, I had a new sign made. We had to change our phone number as well, so I wanted to get that information out to the community,” said Otero, who has worked at the business for 27 years.

As soon as the sign was up, people began calling to see when the store would open. They all said they were glad to have the community pharmacy back in business.

“Everyone who has come in has said how glad they are we are open or how excited they are that we’re open,” said Dinah Romero, who has run the front part of the store for the past four years.

“I really missed our customers,” she said. “We are all glad to be back.”

Besides the store returning to its original name, it’s also family-run by the Oteros.

“It’s a family project,” Otero said. “My wife, Joan, will be helping up front. My daughter, Andrea, will be working here when she’s not in her college classes. And Jose, my son, helps out after school doing whatever we need.”

Plus, Otero’s sister, Raquel, is also helping out.

Non-family employees Dinah Romero and Karen Aragon have also helped to get the business ready to open its doors.

Working behind the pharmacy counter is Valencia County native Louie Chavez. He returns to his home community after being in Las Vegas, Nev., for four years.

“Louie called about a job just when Horizon was selling out,” Otero said. “So it was good to have him available.”

Chavez and Otero help customers with their questions about medications.

“People really trust Leon for advice on their minor medical needs,” said Romero. “They know he has their best interest at heart.”

They get questions about everything from what can be put on a recently-stitched laceration to what to put on a chicken’s head when it has bacteria.

Joe’s Pharmacy has something for everyone in the family, including the family pets or livestock.

“We want this store to be a true country store,” Otero said. “We want to expand our pet supplies and gifts quickly. It will probably take a while before our home health care area is completely equipped.”

But Otero has a philosophy: “if someone asks for something we don’t have, we’ll try to get it for them.”

The store has a selection of Hallmark Cards, gifts, basic grocery items, household items, hair care, school supplies, baby care, and items for dental, eye and foot care.

Also the basic over-the-counter allergies, flu and cold remedies are in stock.

There is a complete line of vitamins and herbal supplements.

Otero has been busy getting his customers’ prescription records back from Smith’s Pharmacy.

“If a person wants their refill prescription to be back with us, all we have to do is call Smith’s and Smith’s gives us the information,” he said. “The customer doesn’t need to go to their doctor for a new prescription.”

To celebrate the return of Joe’s Pharmacy, Otero is planning a week long grand opening, beginning Monday, April 8.

“Next week is going to be our official grand opening,” Otero said. “We’re going to have a day of celebration on Saturday with hot dogs and drinks for our customers and an inflatable jumping balloon for the kids.

“I’ve had so much support from the community while I was deciding what to do with the business,” he said. “We want to show them we appreciate their confidence and support.”

Otero wants his store to be more than a drug store. He wants the store to return to its country roots.

“I’ve always wanted to offer our community an alternative to the big chain pharmacy,” he said. “People need a pharmacy staff which is there to answer their questions.”

Quick Facts

Joe’s Pharamcy

Owner: Leon Otero

Services: Full-service drug store

Location: 3646 NM 47, Peralta

Phone: 869-3646

Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, 8:30a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Jane Moorman