OAKLAND — After a decade of downtown business, Oakland Pharmacy has decided to move to a larger building along traffic-heavy Kennedy Memorial Drive.

The locally owned pharmacy’s new location has been open since early June, but a ribbon-cutting that drew Gov. Paul LePage was held Thursday afternoon at the site, 907 Kennedy Memorial Drive, in the former North Country Power Sports building. LePage, who attended the event with local officials, called small businesses such as Oakland Pharmacy “the backbone of Maine.”

Its new location is bigger, with better parking and more traffic, but leaving its longtime location on Main Street in Oakland was difficult, owner Shane Savage said.

“It was tough leaving the store, but from a business standpoint we had to do something. We had to get to where the traffic was flowing,” Savage said.

Although the departure leaves a hole in Oakland’s Main Street business district, local groups and business owners are working hard to help revitalize the area, Town Manager Gary Bowman said. Savage’s decision to move to Kennedy Memorial Drive was driven by the needs of his business, Bowman said.

“Obviously, when you’re in business for yourself, you’re looking for the traffic,” he said. “I don’t think it says anything negative about our downtown.”

The Main Street location was a good fit for the pharmacy, but it could never get the visibility that its new location offers, Savage said.

“For traffic flow reasons, a lot of people avoid Main Street,” Savage said. New customers still were coming into the pharmacy for the first time this year because they hadn’t seen it before and didn’t know it existed, he added.

Savage also wanted a larger storefront and more parking, which he couldn’t get at his old location.

The new 6,000-square-foot store is almost three times larger than the pharmacy on Main Street, and Savage said he has double the amount of parking. The store is selling more than just medication, branching out to food, dollar items and drinks.

Savage owns a local chain of pharmacies in Oakland, Winslow, Fairfield and Union. The other locations aren’t big enough for the type of store he’s trying in Oakland, Savage said.

Since it opened June 1, the store has seen a big jump in traffic, Savage said. It helps that it is on the westbound side of Kennedy Memorial Drive, making it easy for people heading into Oakland to stop on their way home from work. The pharmacists can turn around a prescription in as little as five minutes, he added.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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