Pharmacy fills 5 millionth Rx

Hills Drug got started in 1976

By Laura Bollin

A pharmacy in Palos Hills reached a milestone this month when the store filled its 5 millionth prescription.

Family photographs decorate the pharmacy counter at Hills Drug, 7634 W. 111th St. Phil Guastella, owner and president of the Hills Drug — which also has branches in Orland Park and Justice — said he is proud to run a family business.

“My daughter, Gia, is a pharmacist and manages the Palos location, and my wife Diana is the bookkeeper,” Guastella said. “We live in Oak Lawn. We’re local people.”

Guastella was hired as a pharmacist at the Hickory Hills Pharmacy in 1965 after he graduated from pharmacy school at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“I started out in the pre-med program, and met a good friend of my brother’s who was a teacher of pharmacy at UIC,” Guastella said. “He said, ‘You ought to try this. You don’t have to get up in the middle of the night if you are a pharmacist.’

Guastella bought Hickory Hills Pharmacy in 1976.

“When I was a staff pharmacist in Hickory Hills, there were three partners, and the brother of one of the partners developed throat cancer and passed away at a very young age,” Guastella recalled. “At that time, it was either look for another job or buy the pharmacy. So I borrowed from my mom and dad and bought the pharmacy. I was 27 years old.”

Hills Drug has since opened location at 15300 West Ave. in Orland Park and 9050 W. 81st St. in Justice.

Customers are Guastella’s favorite thing about working at the pharmacy, he said.

“We know 90 percent of our customers by first and last name,” he said. “We know their kids and their families. We have a personal relationship with them.”

Guastella’s daughter, Gia Cipriani, runs the Palos Hills store and said the best thing about working at Hills Drug is the service.

“We have an old fashioned way of doing things,” Cipriani said. “We deliver prescriptions to people’s houses for free. Nobody does that anymore.”

Cipriani grew up in the pharmacy, helping count items like candy and greeting cards by hand for inventory when she was a child.

“During Easter, customers would come to the store and purchase items for Easter baskets — candy, perfume, cards, and things like that, and on Easter morning, someone would dress up in a bunny suit and jump in the delivery truck and deliver the baskets to the kids’ homes,” she remembered. “We get cards all the time thanking us for our service. Instead of pressing one or pressing two, here people can speak to a person. I like that people respond to our personalized service. They come here for a reason.”