Watchung Roots to Warren Pharmacy Marking 50 Years
Watchung Pharmacy founder Frank Castronovo's legacy is Warren's oldest retail business.
In 1962, "Jersey Boys" The Four Seasons had two no. 1 songs, movie-goers packed the theaters for "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," and Warren audiences watched ABC-TV's first-ever all-color series: "The Jetsons."
Warren residents also enjoyed another premiere: on Oct. 1, 1962, Tom Castronovo opened the Edgewood Pharmacy in the Bardy Farms Shopping Center, beginning the modern era of retail business in town.
To mark the occasion, the store will be celebrating with special events and promotions this week, and Mayor Carolann Garafola will stop by at 4:30 p.m. Monday to recognize the Castronovo family's contributions to Warren.
Tom Castronovo is a second generation pharmacist—his father, Frank, opened his first drug store in 1926 on Houston Street in New York City and later, the Watchung Pharmacy, on Watchung's circle. He's been joined by his son, Steve, in operating the store for the last 25 years.
Visit the store today and you can still find Tom Castronovo filling prescriptions or helping customers find the right product. You'll also find Steve helping customers in the same time-tested, quality-assured way that has kept the store going through the township's rapid growth, new competition and the recent recessionary years.
"It's been a difficult time and we couldn't have survived it without the support of the community," Steve Castronovo said.
Which is ironic, since many in the community may feel the same way about this service-oriented pharmacy (they will bring medications out to customers' cars in the parking lot, if it will help the kids rest or keep a sick customer out of the elements).
But the store doesn't live by pills alone: mixing the usually drug store fare with upscale products has proven to be a great mix for Edgewood Pharmacy.
"If you have a quality product and you have traffic—then you can sell the quality products," Castronovo said. The store features high-end brands like The Art of Shaving, Crabtree and Evelyn, Moulton and Brown candles and lotions, and Philosophy skin care—labels usually only found in high-end department stores.
And they're dispayed across from the lesser-priced brands if you're not ready for the step up.
During the 50 years, the store has grown, literally, as the shopping center was expanded. Castronovo said about eight years ago, the original structure was demolished, with the current configuration added.
The store moved to a smaller location on the other side of the shopping center during the construction for about two years, then moved back to its original location.
"It was very nice to be able to come back to the place we started," Castronovo said.
Of course, there have been other changes through the years, as well. Castronovo said the store's customer database helps identify medication issues to alert customers to, and the pharmaceutical inventory is much larger.
And that's not all that's grown.
"There are probably more cars in the parking lot right now that would drive by in a day in 1962," Castronovo said.
The store now uses social media to keep customers informed, including a new Facebook pagelaunched a few weeks ago.
To mark the Golden anniversary, the store will be offering samples of many products, and giving customers a chance to get a discount on purchases with a spinning wheel. A drawing for a grand prize—a basket of goods including a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne—will also highlight the week.
"Mostly, we want the week to say 'thank you' to our customers who have supported us," Castronovo said.
Popular candies from 1962 will also be offered and don't be surprised to hear "Big Boys Don't Cry" or "Duke of Earl" on the PA.