DeKALB – Peter Gill offered a description of Tim and Ann Lehan.
“If there’s something going on in the community ... you can guarantee the Lehans will be there,” Gill said.
The Lehans, owners of Lehan Drugs, are being honored as Retailers of the Year for 2012 by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, an award that acknowledges their business success as well as their contributions to the community, said Gill, the association’s communication director.
The Lehans will be honored at the retail merchants association gala luncheon today at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago.
Lehan Drugs, 1407 S. 4th St. in DeKalb, has changed since it opened in 1946. Gill credited the survival and evolution of the independent pharmacy to its owners’ caring for their customers.
“They changed because they listened to their customers,” Gill said. “It’s not only servicing their customers, but listening to their customers that drives the whole thing.”
Adding home medical equipment and a women’s health boutique to the store was because of customer demand, Tim Lehan said.
“We’ve grown it to what would help our patients and customers best,” he said.
The pharmacy has been family-owned and operated since it opened. When Tim Lehan was growing up, he said the idea of running the family business was in “the back of my mind.”
“I had no idea what I was getting myself into, to be honest,” Lehan said.
What he found out was that it takes a lot of time and effort to run a successful business.
He also came to believe that independent store owners must be involved in the community. The Lehans have been involved in organizations such as the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Re:New DeKalb, the YMCA, the DeKalb County Health Department, as well as doing business with Kishwaukee Community Hospital. Tim Lehan is also a director on the Illinois Retail Merchants Association board.
The Lehans also have used their pharmacy to promote local businesses. In July, the pharmacy gave away $2 to each customer who promised to spend it at locally owned, independent stores.
As a part of the award, the merchants association will make a small donation to the charity of the Lehans’ choice.
Lehan said the donation will go to DeKalb County Hospice, whose work he described as being “close to all our hearts.” Neither Lehan nor Gill could say how much money would be donated.
IRMA has recognized retailers around the state since 1978. Gill said the only other local retailers to have received the award are Lee and Sherrill Blankenship of DeKalb’s Village Commons Bookstore in 2006.