Carmen Pallot’s decision to renovate Pharmasave Lillooet was driven by her desire to not only modernize the business but to give the residents of the town of 2,300 in northern British Columbia a bright, warm and inviting place to shop. Pallot’s parents purchased the 500 sq. ft. pharmacy back in the early 1970s and ran it until Carmen took over in 1999. The store had become old and dated and last summer she did a complete renovation to improve the dispensary and generally give the store a much-needed facelift.
by Talbot Boggs
“Running a pharmacy in a small town in a remote area has its challenges,” Pallot says. “I wanted to create an inviting environment where people would like to come to shop and get the services and products they need.”
Over a three-week period Pallot completely outfitted the pharmacy with new LED lighting, flooring, shelving and a good paint job. She maintained the size of the old dispensary but reorganized it with separate drop-off and pick-up counters to improve the workflow, built a private room for consultations and a new Ideal Protein program, and created a separate area for blister packaging and basic compounding practice.
Her biggest addition to the front shop was an expanded cosmetics section and the creation of a fashion area at the front of the store overseen and managed by a staff member with a special love for makeup and fashion. She has a broad selection of vitamins, health and beauty and home healthcare products and works closely with physiotherapists at the local hospital to meet the needs of patients, including filling special orders if required.
Pallot also is the town’s Canada Post drop-off centre, selling stamps and more offbeat, general merchandise items including greeting cards, giftware, toys, swimming pool chemicals, and home-made wine supplies. She and her staff will travel to any of the six First Nations communities in the area to deliver products and supplies and conduct information briefings and seminars on a host of health-related topics such as diabetes management and smoking cessation. Lillooet has a methadone program and works with an opioid clinic in the local hospital providing methadone, needle exchanges and Naloxone kits.
Pallot’s $300,000 expenditure has paid off in several ways. Customers and staff love the new surroundings, her hydro bills have gone down by 30 per cent, sales in the expanded cosmetics and fashion section are up 20 per cent and general sales and activity in the pharmacy are up.
The population of Lillooet hasn’t changed much over the years, but Pallot says she has seen changes in some of the surrounding communities as people migrate from Vancouver and larger centres for more affordable housing. “I don’t see any immediate need for future expansion or renovations, but at some point I would like to have more consulting and compounding space,” she says. “In the meantime I’ll just digest what we’ve done and let people in community enjoy the nice environment we have created for them.”