As we gear up for all of the holiday shopping that we have before us, we must remember to think about where we are shopping, and for what reasons. I am reminded of this every time that I pay a visit to my pharmacy – Parker Pharmacy on Hertel Avenue. Every time that I walk into this business, the world slows down just a little bit. The pharmacy reminds me of a general store that I liked to frequent when I was a young boy. From the smell of the place, to the items that they stock (cosmetics to bacon ketchup), there’s something truly unique and special about the surroundings.
Before Parker Pharmacy opened, I had to resort to shopping at a nondescript chain pharmacy for any medications that my doctor prescribed. To me, it was fairly torturous walking into such an uninspired setting. When I first stepped foot inside Parker Pharmacy, I knew at that moment that I had found a place that I wanted to support. Not only was it owned locally – Barbara Madison is the current owner – it had all of the things that I needed, without the sterility.
Almost every time that I visit Parker Pharmacy, I am greeted by Barbara herself, or another friendly pharmacist. When Barbara is working, she always asks me about Buffalo, and tells me things that are happening on Hertel. She also makes a point to ask me if there’s something that she should be carrying that is not stocked on the shelves. To me, that is customer service that you just don’t find at a Rite Aid or a Walgreens. It’s one of the reasons why I travel across town to shop, when I could simply walk down the street and find a chain.
Other differences between Parker Pharmacy and the chains is the merchandise. Parker Pharmacy carefully selects the products that it feels their customers will benefit from using. From organic cleaning products (Meyer’s clean day for example) to chips (Garden of Eatin’) and salsas (Drew’s organic) sourced from responsible companies. It’s easy to tell that the products aren’t made by giant food companies.
When I’m browsing the shelves at Parker Pharmacy, I take the time to learn about unfamiliar products that are being featured. Not only do I tend to look at more items and brands, I also opt to purchase a couple of items that I want to try out, such as J.R. Watkins hand soap and the all purpose cleaner.
To me, making a special trip to Parker Pharmacy is… well, special. Each time I go, I ask how business is. Each time I am told that business is up, thankfully. North Buffalo is extremely lucky to have such a pharmacy and general store in its midst. The more people that go out of their way to support an independent such as this, the better their lives will be. Not only will they have access to the products that they need, but because they will be taken care of in myriad ways that they might not even think about. From caring about your health and wellness, to knowing your name, I can’t say enough about this business.
To answer Barbara’s relentless question, “Is there anything that you can think of that we should be doing/carrying?”, my answer is this:
- Instead of carrying the generic cards in the back of the store (there are tons), dedicate a section to locally made cards from Great Arrow Graphics, CDesigns Cards, etc.
- Consider switching up some of the candy with regional favorites and retro selections – like an old general store might do.
- See if you can find some locally made items that would be of interest to kids, such as kazoos and hand crafted toys from the Amish community. There is no kids’ toyshop on Hertel. It would appeal to the families.
- Sell five ‘n dime style candies that are weighed out and then poured into paper bags. That would be a big hot with the kids too. It would keep them busy while parents shop for sundries.
- Continue to capitalize on the old-timey feel that so many people love. Maybe purchase some historic general store-looking memorabilia to go along with the old world ‘vibiness’.
To make it even more convenient, there is parking in the back (and a back entrance), so you don’t have to fight over a metered parking on the street.
In 2017, consider making Parker Pharmacy your pharmacy of choice. If you’ve never been inside, then you don’t know what you’re missing.The next time you visit your doctor, and the receptionist asks you where your pharmacy is, just tell them “Parker Pharmacy”. It’s that easy.