By Talbot Boggs
Sometimes life presents opportunities you just can’t refuse. Cristina Privado wasn’t thinking of expanding Memorial Pharmasave in Orillia, Ont. until the store attached to the pharmacy closed. “When the landlord informed me that the space was available, it suddenly struck me that this was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Privado says. “I approached my two co-owners and said, ‘if we’re going to do this, it’s now or never.’”
With an immediate doubling of the store to 2,200 sq. ft., Privado and her team had some decisions to make about how best to use the space. The original store, which opened in 2012, was almost all dispensary with only about 300 sq. ft. of front shop. The new space gave her an ideal opportunity to turn Memorial into a health centre focused on offering health-related, educational and other services and products to her broad customer base – millennials at the local Lakehead University and Georgian College, seniors, young families, patients from Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital and two group homes, and customers from neighbouring communities.
Privado completely revamped the front shop by enlarging the OTC area, adding a home healthcare section, giftware, fashion accessories, and creating a section containing Melissa & Doug educational toys for the children of the growing number of young families in her trading area. “We do have a lot of young families and saw this as another opportunity,” Privado says. “So far the reviews have been great.”
She also took the availability of the additional space to significantly upgrade and expand her suite of services. She added a second private consultation room specifically to accommodate a new Ideal Protein weight loss and management program and also introduced a complementary line: Walden Farms specialty, calorie, fat, carbs, gluten and sugar free food products.
“We introduced Ideal Protein in my other store in Angus and got a lot of traction with it there, and felt it also would be very attractive to the large group of health-conscious consumers in the 30-65 age group,” Privado says.
The addition of the new counselling room has opened up space for Privado to expand her services to encompass injections, medication reviews, smoking cessation, compression therapy, methadone management and medication synchronization programs. “We’re currently implementing synchronization for patients with five or more chronic medications,” Privado says. “Coordinating refills of multiple medications at one time improves adherence and is a great convenience and comfort that patients really appreciate.”
She encourages compliance packaging for her large number of patients in two local group homes and from neighbouring communities, and provides delivery, home visits and MedChecks, order refills on smartphones through a Pharmasave app (a very popular option among her younger patients), and a Pharmasave rewards program.
Privado estimates the front shop business has risen by about 150 per cent since the addition was completed in February last year and she is gaining traffic and new customers each week. She has had to add staff to take care of the expanded front shop and the growing Ideal Protein program, and ensures that when the Pharmacist/manager is not working, at least one of the owners is on duty for consistency of staffing and a high level of service at all times.
“This means that our patients will see at least one of us each week, eight times a month, which is really important to give them that feeling of consistency and confidence and to develop loyalty both among existing and new customers,” Privado says. “This expansion truly was an opportunity of a lifetime that we’re really glad we took.”
Opening date: Feb. 2016
Store size: 2,200 sq. ft.
Investment: $225,000 total investment in the original store and the addition.
Services: Ideal Protein Weight Loss, injections, medication reviews, smoking cessation, compression therapy, methadone management, medication synchronization, delivery, in-home visits and MedChecks, compliance packaging, smartphone order refills, rewards program.
Employees: 1 FT pharmacist/manager, 3 PT pharmacists/owners, 1 FT pharmacy assistant, 1 FT front shop manager/Ideal Protein consultant, 1 PT pharmacy assistant.
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon – Fri; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat; closed Sundays and holidays