With retail giants like Walmart and Costco nipping at their heels, pharmacist Nathan Longeau and the design team at Pharmasave/Rubicon felt it was time to put their heads together to come up with a strategy to revitalize Gardiner Park Pharmasave in Regina.
by Talbot Boggs
Photography by Carey Shaw
The old 4,500 sq. ft. store, which was, in the words of Longeau, “long in the tooth,” moved into 7,000 sq. ft. of space in a new building across the parking lot. “We have a very loyal customer base in an expanding area of the city and our reach is growing,” he says. “Every day we are getting new customers. They’re looking for a good selection of merchandise and they want to get in and out of the store quickly. With lots of choices nearby it became evident that convenience, a great shopping experience, and superior customer service had to be our primary strategies.
With more space to work with, the pharmacy’s dispensary and front shop were both able to expand significantly. The dispensary doubled in size to 600 sq. ft. and now includes a much-needed 100 sq. ft. private consultation room, which Longeau and his staff use for a myriad of purposes, including smoking cessation, compression stocking fittings, medication reviews and injections when they come into practice in the province this year. As well, he utilizes Rubicon Pharmacies’ automated compliance packaging system that allows him and his team to serve 100 local nursing home and ambulatory patients in the community.
“It’s really allowed us to do so much more in terms of providing services to our customers and giving them the privacy that they need and want,” says Longeau. “Medication assessments are very important to providing the best patient care and we are now able to offer that service in a comfortable setting. We have the capability for a number of services. I don’t know the volume, but I would love to see us doing 1,000 flu shots a season. Our service offering has gone up a notch or two.”
Longeau also has made huge improvements to the front shop, redoing virtually every category and section and focusing on convenience and beverages. An open-faced cooler at a cost of $30,000 tripled his offering of beverages and other foods, plus he added milk and bread, and expanded the confectionery section. Confectionery and food now account for more than 100 linear feet.
He also revamped the store’s cosmetics, giftware, fashion accessories and home healthcare sections. He brought in the very popular Cover Girl cosmetics line and expanded the section to 48 linear feet, enhanced giftware and fashion accessories, boosted home healthcare to 24 feet with support hosiery, bath aids, canes, walkers and other devices, and added some specialty services such as a post office and a drop-off and pick-up laundry service for added customer convenience.
Longeau outfitted the store with all the latest design concepts and equipment. The store now features wider aisles, low shelving and LED lighting and a queuing system which has provided an additional 52 linear feet of high-traffic shelf space and allowed the pharmacist to display high-impulse purchase items near the front tills. As well, he extended the store’s hours, all with the aim of enhancing convenience and the shopping experience for his customers.
It appears to have worked. In the first few months since the $800,000 renovation completed, sales have increased 56 per cent in the front shop and nine per cent in the dispensary. “With a lot of competition down the street we had to make the store a place where people could come and get what they need quickly in a pleasant environment,” Longeau says. “That’s what we tried to achieve, and from sales and traffic our customers seem to be telling us we’ve done it.”