Building a pharmacy from scratch in a competitive urban centre, Kim Geldart knew she had to create a truly spectacular store.
By Talbot Boggs
Photography by Aaron McKenzie Fraser
The store had to feature a great assortment of products and services and also encourage superior communication with patients.
Geldart already had a location in place in Tantallon on the outskirts of Halifax after purchasing a Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM), but ended up taking over 10,500 sq. ft. of space across the street from it last December and transitioning that location into the new Pharmasave store, which opened in late June 2015. Geldart had the option of staying in the old Shoppers location or working with Irving and SDM to lease the new location that had been started before the Loblaws/SDM merger. She chose to lease the new, modern location and opened in July 2015.
“This was my third build-from-scratch,” says Geldart, co-owner of eight and sole-owner of six Pharmasave locations across the province. “Being in a large urban centre with lots of competition, I knew I had to make this a stellar location which would really draw people. Pharmacy has changed a lot over the last three decades. Customers are looking for more privacy and a greater selection of products and services. I needed a physical plan that would incorporate all these elements.”
Geldart invested some $1.2 million – excluding the purchase price of the SDM store – to turn Tantallon into one of the most progressive pharmacies in the region, focusing on product and service specialities and interaction with patients. The pharmacy has two semi-private areas and two private consultation rooms which can be combined into one large room that Geldart uses for clinics and education seminars for up to 14 people. The dispensary is designed so that a pharmacist can be at the intake to meet customers, ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of the prescription, and provide information and advice while technicians and assistants fill and check prescriptions and deliver them to the out-take, where there is another consultation area and a pharmacist to meet with patients as well.
Geldart incorporated a large number of features and services into Tantallon. Some of them are more specialized such as customized breast prostheses, orthotics, compression stocking fittings, home visits and exercise programs for wheelchair patients, along with medication reviews, vaccinations, compliance packaging, delivery, live-well seminars, minor ailment assessments, and even exercise programs. Tantallon has a large home healthcare section offering bathroom safety devices, mobility aids, foot care, home assessments, lift chairs, orthotic footwear and free local delivery.
Geldart has also placed a heavy emphasis on cosmetics. She has installed 64 linear feet of cosmetics spread on both sides of the aisle with a cosmetic counter in between and beautiful glass displays of jewellery and accessories. As well, she has created what she calls a men’s locker zone – a one-stop-shop 40 linear feet of men’s toiletries, grooming products and aids.
Included in the Tantallon location is 2,000 sq. ft., which Geldart is turning into a medical clinic with seven examining offices and a large open concept office space that encourages collaboration and, ultimately, improved patient care. “This is really a model for the future of healthcare – to be able to communicate easily as primary healthcare practitioners and support each other. Having access to related healthcare professionals and services in the building is a bonus.”
Over many years Geldart has come to realize that pharmacy is both a business and a drugstore. She has created a number of marketing initiatives like the cosmetics loyalty card giving customers $10 off with every $100 of purchases. She offers free make-overs, monthly discounts for seniors, regular monthly discounts on selected lines of cosmetics, sales on back-to-school essentials, buy-one-get-one free promotions, and other specials such as free food-related products with the purchase of a Paderno frying pan. “It’s really important to say ‘thank you’ to customers and reward them for their loyalty,” she says. “When you are competing in an urban core you have to be unique to draw people in. You just can’t afford to be typical.”