EDITORIAL: Only cooperation can ease tensions between Johnston pharmacy, deli and the rest of us


Two years ago, Americans were locking themselves in and businesses were shutting down.

A year later, vaccines offered a light at the end of the long, dark pandemic tunnel.

Two years later, in the first week of 2022, however, the virus has pitted two struggling business owners against each other on Atwood Avenue in Johnston.

The virus has mutated and businesses have also been forced to change. Evolution may ultimately be the key to survival for entrepreneurs.

The Atwood Pharmacy has been providing much needed services to residents of the Johnston area.

Finding a vaccine booster has been tricky — some sites are scheduling shots weeks in advance. Finding a COVID test can be even trickier — days-long-waits for tests, and longer for results, have made tests far less useful in stopping the spread of the virus. At-home tests have become a rare commodity.

In the void, a local private pharmacy stepped up. With walk-in appointments for vaccinations and testing, the Atwood Pharmacy has become the go-to spot for Johnston and Cranston school faculty, students and families in search of diagnosis clarity.

The vaccines offered there have likely saved lives.

Johnston still ranks in the Ocean State’s top three towns with the highest rates of infection, according to the Department of Health.

The pharmacy opened in the summer of 2021. Shortly after, Heaven on Earth Catering and Schroder’s Deli opened next door — two small businesses operating side-by-side in the small complex at 1302 Atwood Ave. (units 1 and 2).

As the virus mutated and spread, and demand for both vaccinations and tests have surged, the traffic visiting Atwood Pharmacy has smothered customer access to the deli next door.

Police have been asked to help alleviate the resulting issues — traffic stoppages, street parking and a few fender benders. The pharmacy owners have been asked to foot the bill for police details.

The surge, however, continues, and the deli has seen a precipitous drop in revenue.

Neither business is at fault. Both proprietors are coping with pandemic stress and doing their best to succeed.

The town and possibly the state need to step in to help these two very different operations survive and thrive.

The pharmacy can’t be blamed for the overwhelming need for virus-related services. And the deli shouldn’t suffer because the pharmacy has stepped up.

We are still in the midst of a public health emergency.

State and local government officials need to help ease the tensions erupting, not only between these two business owners, but dividing the public in general.

We all need to cooperate and find patience. We need to understand that we live in unprecedented times. We need to love and support our neighbors.

Both these businesses need support from their customers and the municipal entities that spend the tax dollars they generate.

Johnston town officials have striven to provide the Ocean State’s friendliest business climate. While that unofficial moniker typically refers to the ease in which developers have been able to launch new projects in town, Rhode Island’s friendliest business climate must trickle down to our pharmacies and eateries.

If the argument between these two Atwood Avenue operations grows fiercer and uglier, no one wins. This is a time for us to all work together.


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  • StefYoga

    I made this comment on the story originally, and wanted to share it here as well

    From a marketing perspective. If I were the deli owner, I'd work it out with the pharmacy owner to offer bounce back, or "bounce in" coupons to the deli. You're waiting outside in line or maybe you don't feel well. What do you want...a nice quart of hot soup to take home. Maybe a pre-made casserole you can heat up when you get home and have dinner for yourself/family. There's a way to make lemonade out of lemons here. Captive audience in that parking lot. I"m sure they are hungry and thirsty. A little promotion goes a long way toward growing a healthy business.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2022 Report this