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SIUE SBDC salutes O’Fallon pharmacy success story

From SIUE news services

When a career pharmacist and an MBA think in tandem, it may well produce a successful entrepreneurial venture.

epps melissaIt has with Melissa and David Epps. Retail pharmacist Melissa Epps and her spouse, David Epps, worked hard to achieve Melissa’s goal of owning an independent pharmacy.

Thanks to expertise from the Metro East Small Business Development Center, the Epps’ venture came to fruition in July 2014. Melissa Epps (right) and her business partners – pharmacy technician Deann Rallo and pharmacist Mark Walz, Rph – bought an existing Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in downtown O’Fallon.

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Although David Epps’ business acumen fueled the couple’s progress for a year or more, when it came to preparing for a traditional loan, they turned to the Metro East SBDC for counseling and expert guidance. Metro East SBDC Small Business Specialist Jo Ann Di Maggio-May stepped in to work with the Epps on the details involved in submitting their financing request to area banks.

“Jo Ann was extremely helpful to us in assisting me with the financials and other information required to qualify for a loan,” said David Epps. “She returned my call quickly and was extremely professional. Our loan was approved within about five weeks. “When you submit your loan package to a lender, they’ll tell you whether or not an SBA loan is necessary depending upon the degree of collateral you’re able to provide. We were able to qualify for a non-SBA loan, thanks to counseling we received from Jo Ann and the Metro East SBDC.”

Di Maggio-May said the extensive amount of work that David Epps poured into the couple’s business plan prior to contacting the SBDC enabled her to hit the ground running and meet their targeted acquisition date.

“With the industry research that I was able to provide, David and Melissa worked hard to create a solid business plan that ensured the financing they were requesting,” Di Maggio-May said. “In fact, the Epps received many compliments from bankers along the way.”

Independently owning and operating a local pharmacy has been Melissa Epp’s long-time goal.

She believes in being able to spend more time educating patients and answering their questions and concerns fully. A pharmacy that is not part of a large conglomerate enables her to that.

“My job as a pharmacist is to take care of people, answer their questions and try to alleviate their concerns about any potential side effects of medication, whether they’re a customer of our pharmacy or not,” she said.

“Opening my own pharmacy has enabled us to give customers the service they deserve and to make sure everything is done thoroughly. Providing patients with the information they need to take their medication correctly is essential, and we’re able to do that.”

The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy is located at 122 W. State St. in O’Fallon. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The Metro East SBDC assists start-up ventures and existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county Metro East region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is a complimentary service to the community that is supported by the SBA.

By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. It enhances the region’s economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

To learn how the SBDC can help your small business, contact the Metro East SBDC at (618) 650-2929 or

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