Thanks in large part to a major transformation of their business, Bonnyville Pharmasave owners Mandy and Peter Jr. Davey are holding their own quite nicely in the face of an Alberta economy that has been wracked by the recent decline in oil prices.
by Talbot Boggs
Photos by Kristen Isley Photography
The Daveys took over the store, which has been a fixture in the rural community since 1979, in 2013. Almost immediately they knew they would have to undergo a complete transformation in order to equip it to provide the level of services, technology and products of a modern, expanded-scope-of-practice pharmacy.
“The oilfield plays a significant role in our rural economy. With the decrease in oil prices and reduction of community members we fortunately are maintaining our customer count,” says Mandy. “We have retained our old customers and are continually attracting new ones. We are extremely grateful to be in the industry we are in, considering that decreased wages or job loss has happened to many people in our community. Keep in mind that 80 per cent of our customers are over the age of 65.”
The Daveys invested a significant amount of money to modernize the facility and expand the entire store from 7,500 sq. ft to 10,000 sq. ft. The pharmacy square footage doubled to 550 sq. ft. and was designed around a new ScriptPro 100 automatic dispenser. They added two rooms for consultations, inoculations, medication reviews, personalized fittings and other services. The pharmacy moved temporarily into a trailer while the first phase of the construction took place and then moved back in while the front shop was redone. “The pharmacy was too small to operate the way pharmacists practise today. Pharmacy is now driven by the delivery of services, not focused on counting pills,” Mandy says. “It was the only way we could continue to operate efficiently without losing customers.”
Customer demand for new services
In response to customer demand and need in the community, the Daveys focused on developing high-quality cosmetic and home healthcare categories, also expanding the square footage of their Canada Post outlet. They created a 500 sq. ft. cosmetics area carrying a full lineup of brand-name products with dedicated full-time staff. They also beefed up their HHC area with an extensive offering of wheelchairs, walkers, toilet seats and bath and shower rails, braces, canes, stockings, crutches and more.
“The greatest improvement in the front store has been in our cosmetics area, but all areas are doing well,” Mandy says. “Our home healthcare section is much more extensive than it was and customers can now physically see what we have to offer. Our post office was enlarged following the guidelines of Canada Post. We brought in extra P.O. boxes because there can be a shortage or a long wait for them at the main post office.”
The new store features wider aisles capable of handling wheelchairs and scooters, new shelving and lighting and new servers, computers and printers. The renovations had one unexpected benefit in that they have attracted more interest from pharmacists, technicians and others interested in working in the store. Next year Mandy hopes to upgrade the telephone system to handle calls more efficiently. “The automated phone system is a great service, but 75 per cent of our customers prefer to talk to someone rather than get an impersonal message, so it’s also really important to keep that personal contact,” Mandy says.
The Daveys consider themselves lucky to have been able to do what they’ve done to their business and to be situated where they are, despite Alberta’s current economic challenges.
“We’re very fortunate to be doing as well as we are given the current economic climate, Mandy says. “We happened to (unknowingly) renovate at the exact right time, which helped us retain and attract new customers in an unstable Alberta economy.”
Opening date: May 2015
Store size: 10,000 sq. ft
Investment: $2 million
Services: Travel health, prescribing and prescription renewal, diabetes education, mastectomy fittings and supplies, compression stockings, smoking cessation, medication reviews, daily blood pressure monitoring, compliance packing, delivery, drug safety handling, and loyalty rewards program.
Employees: 35 full and part time
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.
Equipment: ScriptPro 100, automated blood pressure machine