Ambience dispensed with the pills

first_imgLocal pharmacies are taking a hit from Medicare Part D, but a few shops are bucking the trend by focusing on unique businesses strategically placed at the front of their stores. These front-end businesses, like the ones at three pharmacies highlighted below, offset sinking drug profits and offer a window into what independent pharmacies may look like in the future. Old-fashioned appeal Fair Oaks Pharmacy in South Pasadena is known less for its drugs than its antique tin ceilings, light fixtures and a soda fountain imported from a pharmacy in Joplin, Mo. “If you live in South Pasadena, this is the kind of place you like to take visitors,” she said. Medical specialty John Sykora has made a living selling products that chain stores don’t want to touch. Sykora, who has owned Abrams & Clark in Long Beach for 30 years, specializes in ostomy products like pouches that collect feces after rectal surgery. Early in his career, he was exposed to the equipment while working in a hospital’s surgical ward. “I had a comfort level working with these products that maybe other people didn’t,” said Sykora, 63. Ostomy products, mastectomy items and uncommon wound dressings generate about half his income. It’s a steady revenue source because nearby chains shy away from these non-impulse buys, he said. Selling specialized medical equipment dovetails with filling prescriptions, which is why he keeps the pharmacy open even though his income from filling prescriptions has dipped. “It’s a nice complement to each other,” Sykora said. Boutique? Dana Drug Store is shoehorned into a strip mall like any other in Los Angeles, but inside, this Burbank pharmacy sells Waterford crystal flutes, University of Southern California beer mugs and bath confetti imported from France. Official Clinique and Estee Lauder cosmetics counters line one side of the store, while the other offers miniature ceramic containers to preserve baby teeth. Oh, and you can fill your Lipitor prescription in back. “I have a lot of people who come into the store and don’t realize there is a pharmacy,” said Ash Zaky, who owns Dana Drug with his wife, Lois. “People think it’s just a boutique.” About half his customers come just for the gifts and luxury goods, he said. One customer in five comes strictly for prescriptions. Zaky, 45, has a business model that chains have championed and that he sees as his ticket to staying open. “The uniqueness of the store can actually give me a competitive edge in the marketplace,” he said. “It’s a convenience store.” [email protected] (818) 713-3735160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Customers sip old-fashioned egg-cream sodas at the counter or eat sandwiches at tables while pharmacist and owner Zahra Shahniani fills prescriptions. The pharmacy brings in 75 to 80 percent of the revenue, but patrons often line up for table service at the restaurant, said general manager Ron Stock. Neither would be viable without the other. “We make jokes what a pain the restaurant is to run, but we have to have it,” Stock said. “All of this draws people to come here.” Anne Dixon remembers coming to the pharmacy when she was 7 years old. Back then it was a stuffy place where employees watched closely for shoplifters. Now, Dixon, 53, was sharing an ice-cream sundae with her daughter and a friend. She doesn’t use the pharmacy because it is not covered by her health plan. last_img

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