Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Pharmacy Years: Mom and Pop Retail, Part 4

The clues were there, for many months. I just wasn't astute enough to piece it all together. When that August day came around in 2004, when I was told by the boss that he was selling his store to Big Retail, I was blindsided. I spent the rest of the day being assaulted by a rush of memories. Mostly small moments that seemed mundane at the time, but now all connected. It won't sound so exciting (or "smoking gun") to you, but that day the boss went nuts because I hadn't written up all of the outdated returns for that month's numbers (ordinarily not a big deal) now made sense.

We were told about a week and half before. Following ten years of running a beloved and successful mom and pop pharmacy, he had sold out to one of the national chains.  They would not assume our location, as they had recently built a shiny new store not a mile down the boulevard. This would be bad news for our patients in the retirement community, who depended on the proximity of the store as many did not drive. We also had delivery service, which I do not believe the big chain offered.

So how did our customers feel about this? We were not allowed to tell them until, the final day! Yes! The day when workers from the new store came in and began breaking down shelves and hauling things away.  Imagine the surprise. Zero time to prepare. Having your prescriptions hijacked to a new, perhaps unfamiliar place. It put us in a horrible position that day. Having to explain why we were now just telling them (we had to wing that one).  Also, having the corporate folks watching and listening like hawks, lest we steer them elsewhere, maybe to another mom and pop.  One of the worst workdays I've ever had.

And there were many who wouldn't learn of the buyout until weeks later when they were greeted by a sign. You've experienced that.  But imagine being a senior who relied upon a place that provided life or death meds. Ugh. I helped the owner break down the store for weeks afterward, having to address people at the door every day as they picked their jaws up off the ground. I had to physically restrain one lady who wanted to confront my soon to be ex-boss. Good times!

But soon an entirely different mom and pop pharmacy would open in that same plaza ...........


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