To say you can get almost everything you want at a drugstore these days may not be a stretch of the imagination if you happen to drop in at Michelle Leins’ Pharmasave in Clearwater B.C.
By Talbot Boggs
Photos by Greenscapes Photography
Besides traditional pharmacy products, Leins features a number of more unusual services such as a post office, computers, cellphones and accessories, SIM cards and gluten-free convenience food geared to the many Canadian, American and European tourists who visit the nearby Wells Gray Provincial Park. She also offers a small methadone practice.
“When you’re the only store within within 45 minutes south and two hours north you’ve got to have a pretty broad range of products and services that are going to appeal to the needs of a lot of different people,” Leins says. “You’ve got to be a bit of everything to everyone.”
About two years ago Leins decided to move from her old 4,400 sq. ft. pharmacy in the town of 6,000 to a new, larger 6,800 sq. ft. store in a more central location across the street from doctors’ offices – a location she felt would give her the opportunity to expand her offerings and better service her diverse customer base.
The post office outlet and the 60 sq. ft. computer sales and help section, which is staffed by a computer expert who can provide technical advice and order parts and equipment, have both proven to be a great draw for the many tourists in the area. “There is a computer store in town so we were advised against doing it, but after a slow start it is working quite well for us,” says Leins. “It definitely is another drawing card to the store.”
Leins also expanded her home healthcare and convenience sections. She now features an extensive range of walkers, canes, grab bars, high toilet seats and other supplies along with the Walden Farm line of sugar- and gluten-free sauces, coffee creamers, jams and jellies, salad and coleslaw dressings, fruit/veggie/chip dips, seafood and pasta sauces and ketchup. Three of her staff are focused on the Ideal Protein weight loss and management program, plus she carries a full range of vitamins and natural health products as well as post cards, giftware and souvenirs for tourists.
Leins’ dispensary includes a 12 x 12 foot private room for counselling and injections. She does basic compounding, has a stocking fitter on staff, and is working on getting CDE accreditation so she can start a Green Shield pulmonary coaching program. Leins spends a lot of time providing general advice to tourists, and being across the street from doctors’ offices, she now does blister packaging for about 30 local residents in their homes. “With a lot of tourists coming in to the store I spend quite a bit of time giving advice on medical conditions and doing emergency refills for people who either have run out of or forgotten to bring their prescriptions,” she says.
Leins opened the new store in August of last year. She estimates her business has grown by about 20 per cent compared to the old store, which she will close shortly when her lease expires. She expects her business will grow even more because she lost a lot of the tourist trade last summer. “June to August is our busiest season, which we missed last summer, but we’re catching up now,” she says. “The move has been great because it’s allowed us to offer more products and services. We now have something for just about everybody who is likely to walk into the store.”
Clearwater Pharmasave facts
Opening date: August 2015
Store size: 6,800 sq. ft.
Investment: $1.4 million
Services: Postal outlet, computer sales and advice, methadone, compressing stocking fitting, consultations, flu shots, medical advice, emergency prescription refills, blister packaging
Employees: 20 full- and part-time
Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday
Equipment: Kroll paperless workflow and automated prescription reminder telephone systems