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Thinking outside the pharmacy box. How ’bout some coffee with that Rx?

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With the way things are going today with lower rebates on generic drug prices and more government regulations, pharmacies now more than ever need to diversify to generate new businesses and streams of revenue.

By Mathieu Maltais BSc Pharm, MSc

I had a flower and gift shop in my pharmacy but noticed that a lot of the customers were young people who love coffee and tea. There was no café in town, so I decided to set up a small tea counter and created my Sip tea brand. It went well, but I thought to myself, ‘a lot more people drink coffee than tea, so why not try coffee?’

To make room for my new ideas, I didn’t really just move the flower and gift shop to some adjoining space. I purchased the next door building and created a door between buildings. This upgraded my flower shop and gift store from 500 sq. ft. to 3,000 sq. ft. At the same time I repurposed the old 500 sq. ft. space into a European style café.

I knew nothing about coffee, so I took a barista training program to learn how to prepare, serve and present specialty coffees. I set up the café at the back of the pharmacy with a separate entrance, which opens an hour before the pharmacy to capture people on their way to work. It’s like Starbucks meets David’s Teas, and has become a great business in no time.

I now serve more than 100 types of teas, everything you can get at Starbucks, specialties like egg nog and candy cane latte, hot cocoa, and baked goods from a local bakery. I built the café myself, which helped reduce the costs, but still spent about $25,000 for the coffee makers, ice machine, dishwasher, grinder and other equipment. I am also adding a washroom and some seating. I expect to do about $250,000 a year in revenue from the café with net profits of between 15 and 20 percent. It’s not only a good little business on its own, but it’s a great addition to the pharmacy that helps draw and keep customers in the store. It helps to make my store a ‘destination’. This is what I am trying to achieve with all my expansions.

Mathieu Maltais BSc Pharm, MSc is the owner of City Drug PharmaChoice in Yarmouth, NS.