Pharmacy U

Cookstown Pharmasave’s feng shui pharmacy

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Good things come to those who wait. Eventually. Pharmacist Dave Head, co-owner of Cookstown Pharmasave, has been waiting a quarter century for the small community 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto to expand.


By Talbot Boggs

Photography by Brandon Gray


Finally, after all those years, Head, along with his new co-owner/partner Claire Barnsley, is ready to take advantage of a major 350-unit housing development nearing completion in the town.

Head invested $300,000 to completely refurbish the 3,000 sq. ft. store from floor to ceiling to bring it up to date and outfit it to service the needs of his burgeoning new base of patients. He worked with Barnsley, a designer by profession, to completely redesign the entire space based on the principles of feng shui, an ancient Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing people with their environment and bringing positive energy into space by reducing clutter and also employing other means.

They started with new porcelain tile on the floor that looks like concrete. Barnsley’s concept was to make the products in the store stand out as much as possible, so she had all the old shelving and its components painted black.

“This creates consistency throughout the entire store, and black really makes the products stand out,” says Barnsley. “Customers can really focus on the products because there are no other colours to interfere with their attention on what’s on the shelves.”

Head and Barnsley installed new 4,200 lumens LED lighting, which not only has made the pharmacy more “pleasing” and brighter as well as reduced the negative effects of shadows, but also has reduced energy costs by about 50 per cent, or $600 a month.

They also redid the pharmacy’s signage, adding a large exterior backlit LED sign on the main tower of the mall in which the store is located and a new sign above the dispensary. And Barnsley designed a movable 12 sq. ft. transportable island which they can wheel around the store to display and promote products and special items.

The revamped store features a new 230 sq. ft. consultation room, new administration office, and enlarged vitamin, cosmetic and home and giftware sections, targeted specifically to the new families and homeowners moving into the town.

Head is using the consultation room to build up his Medscheck business, for educational clinics and seminars, immunizations, consultations, and massages, and he is talking to doctors from outlying communities to invite them to use the space as a satellite office when they are in town.

Expanded sections

The vitamin section was expanded into a separate 170 sq. ft. area separated by a divider. The cosmetic section features LED flat panels, and the home and giftware section, now enlarged to about 420 sq. ft., features tasteful, hand-picked accessories and gift items in the $20 to $30 price range, including costume jewellery, fashion accessories and works from local artists. And for the first time, Head has a small business office from which to work.

Head and Barnsley carefully decorate the store’s front window to reflect the changing seasons. “It’s sort of an old-style Eaton’s window,” Head says. “For Christmas we had a scene with Santa on one side and skates and hockey sticks on the other. Being the only pharmacy in town, we’re a bit like a general store.”

The changes resulted in increased business in both the front shop and dispensary of about 30 per cent in the first month and 17 per cent in the second. Head and Barnsley hope that will continue in the future when the housing development is complete and fills up.

“The customers are really thrilled with the changes,” says Barnsley. “Most people think we have made the store bigger even though we haven’t. The really good news is that the renovations have been a success and we still have linear and vertical space for future growth.”