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Cobourg’s Pepper brothers renovate for the community

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A decision by the landlord to expand the Midtown Plaza in Cobourg, Ont. afforded brothers Dean and Jody Pepper the perfect opportunity to renovate and modernize their York Super IDA Pharmacy to better meet their customers’ needs and equip them to handle the challenges of running a pharmacy in today’s environment.

By Talbot Boggs

As a long-time family business with roots in Cobourg from the ‘50s, the Peppers wanted the new renovation to reflect their commitment to the community and its inhabitants. In 1990 the pharmacy moved and established itself as a full-service, one-stop shopping experience featuring 12,500 sq. ft. of retail space with wide, spacious aisles.

“Since then, the plaza was getting pretty tired, so the landlord basically demolished it, got rid of some of the tenants and added about 15,000 sq. ft. of new space,” the brothers say. “It was the perfect opportunity for us to really bring the store up to scratch.”

Although the overall size of the store hasn’t changed, virtually everything else has. The $2-million renovation was organized so there was never any interruption to the business. “The new store was right next to the old one, so we just moved in overnight,” Dean says.

New features

The new store features the addition of a 1,100 sq. ft. second-floor mezzanine which houses offices, a staff lunchroom, and boardroom. It incorporates soft pastel colours on the walls in contrast to the stark white in the old store, new counters, new fixtures featuring energy-efficient induction lighting, and easy-to-move Streater shelving. The dispensary is outfitted with high-endurance, low-maintenance and slip-resistant Endura rubber flooring. The store, completely wheelchair accessible, features shorter aisles that make it easier for customers to shop.

New services

To help meet the needs of the community and a growing aging population, Dean and Jody felt they needed to concentrate on improving their dispensary and the services they provide. They enlarged its physical size to about 1,200 sq. ft. and positioned it diagonally across one corner of the store, which greatly improved the use of space and workflow, allowing dispensary staff to serve customers more quickly and efficiently.

They increased the size of the waiting area, outfitting it with a television and chairs to make it more comfortable and inviting for customers, added private and semi-private consultation rooms where they also can administer injections, and created a private addiction treatment area.

“With the increased space and work-flow efficiency we now are able to increase the frequency of diabetes, blood pressure, foot care and other clinics we put on as well as install a blood pressure monitoring machine,” says Dean.

More home healthcare

The Peppers felt they needed to substantially improve their home healthcare section to adequately service their aging customers and the many retirees moving to Cobourg from nearby Toronto. The 1,000 sq. ft. section now offers an extensive selection of wheelchairs, walkers, bathroom rails and seats, safety bars, incontinence products and other supports. The pharmacy, which services a local retirement home and two long-term care facilities, appeals to seniors by providing daily deliveries and a seniors’ day every Tuesday offering a 15 per cent discount.

Other upgrades

The Peppers have made a number of other significant improvements. They upgraded the cosmetics section, offering a bigger selection of the latest and bestselling brands, and a registered cosmetician to help customers. They also added a packaged-goods food offering, lottery centre, new post office centre complete with PO boxes, an ATM bank machine, and fresh flowers, and continue to offer a strong seasonal section.

Modern tech

Over the years the Peppers have kept up with technology such as prescription scanning, automatic call reminders and an automatic voicemail system that lets customers call in their requests for medications and prescription refills any time, night or day. The pharmacy prides itself on being open every day of the year and keeping abreast of technological developments.