Selling Drugs — And Giving Away Kindness

Today’s awesome customer service story comes courtesy of alert “06880” reader Jo Shields.

Recently, her 95-year-old friend Alden Sherman had vascular surgery. He’d already picked up 2 pairs of the necessary compression stockings, and was about to pull them on.

Then he saw a note from the surgeon. He’d bought a compression rating far too high. It was 8 p.m. — on a Friday.

Very worried, he called Jo. Could she ask Colonial Druggists for the right ones?

She called, not expecting much.

The ever-smiling, always-helpful Russ Levine.

The ever-smiling, always-helpful Russ Levine.

“Wonder of wonders, that beacon of helpful kindness, Russ Levine, picked up the phone,” Jo says.

Yes, he said — come on down. I’ll help.

It took a while for Jo to explain exactly which parts of his leg Alden needed to measure. Russ was unconcerned. He gave Jo all the sizes, and said, “just bring back what doesn’t fit.”

Stunned by his generosity, Jo chatted awhile. Russ talked about raising his family in Weston (most of his kids and grandchildren still live there). He told Jo that he planned to go sailing the next day — Saturday — and said she’d caught him catching up on paperwork after hours.

So the next day, when Jo returned with the unneeded compression stockings, she was surprised to see Russ in the parking lot. What about the sailing?

“Well, the weather wasn’t that great,” he replied, smiling. Besides, he added,
“there’s always work to do.”

Jo could not thank Russ enough.

Thousands of equally grateful customers — over many years — no doubt have their own Russ Levine-and-Colonial Druggists stories too. Click “Comments” to share yours.

28 responses to “Selling Drugs — And Giving Away Kindness

  1. Jo Ann Miller

    Russ, Robin, and the rest of the staff at Colonial drug are the best.
    I think supporting our local family owned businesses is extremely important.

  2. Ilene Mirkine

    It never ceases to amaze me hearing stories of the folks at Colonial Drug going the extra mile. They are a true asset to our town! I agree that its important to support family owned, local businesses ESPECIALLY when they are the best around!

  3. Don Willmott

    Every Westporter should shop there. The crew at Colonial showed both my parents incredible compassion as their health declined and they required more and more prescriptions and supplies. Colonial is the absolute epitome of hometown small business done right.

  4. Kelly Copeland

    Russ is a true gem of Westport. He takes time with his customers. People who provide that heart to heart are what make our town so special.

  5. Brett Aronow

    I have been nothing more than ecstatic when I found Colonial (after my insurance company dropped Walgreens!) I enjoy the personalization and the friendly staff! And yes I’ve been there after six pm and I was surprised to find a number of other people alongside myself. THUMBS UP for COLONIAL!

  6. 1620 curly willow lane, wake forest, nc. 27587

    Everything written here is true. Even though I no longer live in Westport, I call 203-227-9538 every time I need expert advice from Russ or Robin, a new pair of knee braces or a refill of my Kniep supply of bath oils or wonderful smelling soap–avocado, gardenia, rose,cucumber. It’s nice to know that I still have a home away from home. Joan Constantikes, Wake Forest, NC’

  7. I’ve known Russ for as far back as I can remember. I grew up with Robin. My family has been doing business with Colonial forever. None of the above stories surprise me. They are simply the best.

  8. Amy Schafrann

    Colonial is truly a Westport gem. Russ, Robin and Karen and all of the staff are incredibly special. Our family so appreciates having them in town.

  9. One more from me… when I was on bed rest, expecting twins at Yale-NH Hospital and needed compression stockings, they were sent to me by Colonial, but that wasn’t all. Tucked into that package was the gift of a small heart-shaped bar of soap, and the sweetest most thoughtful hand-written note from Russ. Here it is, nearly 19 years later, and I still remember. In fact I kept that little heart-shaped bar of soap quite a while long past its easy usefulness, perhaps holding on to it as a remembrance of the medical difficulties that somehow turned out okay. When my daughter was about 10, she must have realized the significance of that dwindling bar of soap. She bought me a new one! (Ahem, which I still have… )

  10. All of what has been said is true! Russ and the staff are terrific and si knowledgeable. One point that hasn’t been made is that with insurance (and Medicare D) Colonial’s prices are absolutely competitive to any national chain. And may I add that I went home thrilled a couple of weeks ago after having a conversation with actor Charles Grodin while waiting for my prescription? I didn’t let on that I knew who he was. 🙂

  11. Joel Hallas

    Yes, it is always a pleasure to deal with Russ, Robin, Karen and the counter staff. They are all knowledgeable, friendly and responsive. It makes a difference to me that they will go the extra mile. For example if you’re about to go on a trip and it’s not quite time for a refill, or if your physician is late with a renewal fax, everyone at Colonial will do what it takes to meet your pharmaceutical needs.

    I’m sure I could spend less if I used my insurance plan’s mail order service, but imagine what would happen if I made a request for special service from them!

    I have been a happy customer, and a happier friend for more than 20 years and plan to continue as long as they do.

  12. chrisitne pfeffer

    Russ is one of the most compassionate and knowledgeable people I know .He along with his staff Robin, Karen et all always have time for a patient question, a drug interaction or just a shared moment of patient care. He is jewel and a great natural resource to all of us. His professionalism is commendable and appreciated by us all.

  13. Gary Singer

    Great post for several reasons. I don’t know Russ ( although I think I’d like to ), and I wasn’t a Colonial customer, but reading about nice people fostering the old Westport generosity and kindness is heart warming. Two residual benefits of today’s post: 1) I wasn’t aware that my (former) dear next door neighbor, Alden, had surgery, and 2) spotting a post from another old, dear friend, Joan Constantikes in NC. Great memories of both Alden and Joan go back over 65 years ago.

    • Gary, Alden’s surgery wasn’t the sort that would slow him down. In fact, as soon as the procedure was over he was prescribed 20 minutes of brisk walking (every other hour or so)! The surgeon did recommend that he hold up on removing the block on the ’26 Type 37 though, which Alden had planned for the next day. In Weston some refer to him as the “Ultimate Car Guy” just the person the other car guys want to be like when THEY grow up. Come to the second annual Alden Sherman Classic Car Show scheduled for 9/22 — it promises to be quite an event!

      Okay Dan, enough about Weston!!

      • Gary Singer

        Thanks for the update, Jo, I also expect to hear from Jane. But one question: Why “enough about Weston”? The cultures of the two towns are certainly intertwined. I’ve lived in both, and both have their pluses and minuses.

        • Hi Gary,
          Nice to hear from a former neighbor. You’ll find that all Dan Woog’s stories are just about Westport. There has to be a tie in specific to Westport or it won’t get posted. That’s why the comment “enough about Weston”. (But come to the Weston show in September if you’re around!)

          • Gary Singer

            Alden, I wish I could. but I haven’t been North since the last time I stopped in to see you, but I know your Antique Car Show will be great.
            Bunni joins me in sending all good wishes.

  14. I’m grateful to Dr. Czuczka for recommending Colonial way back when my Tom was a baby (that was 21 years ago this Friday!!)

  15. NIcest staff and best service on the planet. We will never use a box-store pharmacy in the area as long as they are around…and I hope that’s for a long time to come!

  16. Stephen Rubin

    Toni and I moved to Westport over 30 years ago. I met Russ years before that since he was a customer of mine. In sales you are lucky to make a friend out of one of many clients and yes I am very lucky to have made a friend of Russ. Not only does he always treat his clientele well but he treats that salesperson that comes knocking on his door with the same respect and courteous manner. Westport is so fortunate to have Russ and the whole Colonial staff. They always go out of their way to make you feel that you are the most important person in the store. There are reasons that Colonial Drugs still does business in Westport against those big national chains. Thank you Russ for being you.

  17. Alden O. Sherman

    Full name didn’t get through. Here it is now.

  18. Three weeks after we moved to Westport 18 years ago, I closed the car door on my four year-old-daughter Lisa’s hand in the parking lot outside the Colonial Druggist. I ran into the pharmacy with her; Lisa was crying and I was crying just as hard. I frantically explained to the man behind the counter — Russ — what had happened, and he got out some chemical cold packs and put them on Lisa’s hand. After we had all stopped crying, he took a look at the fingers and told me it would probably be all right, but I should call my local pediatrician. When I told him that we had just moved and didn’t have a pediatrician yet, and moreover were supposed to leave on vacation later that day, he made a call to a nurse he knew so I could ask for advice on the spot. Lisa’s hand was fine, we had a nice vacation, and Russ has been our pharmacist and friend ever since. We couldn’t have had a better and more reassuring welcome to Westport. It’s a pleasure to see him every time I go to the pharmacy (and sometimes at the Sherwood Diner, too . . . )

  19. Janet Filling

    And you were the one, Russ Levine, who gave us that special chair for Jim when his Parkinson’s started to be uncomfortable. That voice on the phone or that smile to greet me, Can’t wait to get back to it again!

  20. Jill Ross Beres

    One of the very big reasons that I am so sad to leave Westport, is Colonial Drug. Russ and Robin are the VERY BEST!

    Everything that everyone has said is true, we are very lucky to have a true pharmacy in town, Paul Beres, MD said they were the best for 40plus years!

  21. Simply the best!

  22. Finest service in Westport, bar none. Russ, Robin and Karen and staff deserve the gold medal of kindness.
    Larry Price