Melrose Pharmacy Offers a Unique Feel

Published - Written by Bruce Kneeland, Community Pharmacy Specialist

Teresa Dickinson, RPh, has a unique combination of charisma, commitment to patient care, discipline to do her homework, and dedication to stick to a task until it is done. The result is that she is the proud owner of Melrose Pharmacy in Phoenix, Arizona.

After working for a large chain for several years, Dickinson became disillusioned. She had become a pharmacist to help people take full advantage of the benefits of modern medicine and did not feel that the chain allowed her to do that. So, she started to think about something that never occurred to her in pharmacy school: opening her own business.

From the outset, she knew she wanted a pharmacy that that had a unique feel. So, Dickinson designed her pharmacy with a high open ceiling featuring exposed wooden beams. This look was complimented by wooden shelving and a low-profile that allows customers to see the pharmacy work area. To enhance the image, Dickinson brought in a retro refrigerated case where she sells a variety of sodas in old-fashioned glass bottles. To top it all off, she installed a 1950s-style exterior neon sign. It all works to make a great impression.

As part of Dickinson’s plan to be more helpful to patients, she decided to focus on women’s health, and that meant compounding. She invested in a 4-day compounding class provided by the Professional Compounding Centers of America and set up her compounding lab in the far-right corner of the building with glass windows so that patients can see inside. Dickinson then added a closed-door counseling room and office where she does private counseling and provides advice on the Take Charge diet, nutrition, and weight loss program. These services are provided for a fee.

Dickinson opened the pharmacy in 2005. But it has not always been smooth sailing. About 3 years after opening, she arrived at work one day to learn that the phone had been cut off. This was not because of a lack of funds, but because she was very busy. Shortly thereafter, Dickinson joined the Pharmacy Development Services program, which helped her understand that it was just as important to work on her business as it was to work in her business. The program also introduced her to the power of technology. Today, Melrose Pharmacy features an EyeCon pill counter, a Parata Pass pill-pouching system, an RxSafe automation system, and a VOW phone system with interactive voice response.

All this has helped Dickinson run a remarkable pharmacy in a neighborhood with a diverse population. Her pleasant manner wins customers because she come from behind the counter to talk with patients. Dickinson also gets out of the pharmacy and networks in the community. She is active in the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and she and her staff members are frequent participants in community events, such as the local AIDS and breast cancer awareness walks and fundraising events for muscular dystrophy. In short, Melrose Pharmacy has become an integral part of the community.

The formula for success seems to be: Make sure the physical facility is appealing and supports the type of practice you want to provide. Do your homework, craft a solid business plan, and then find help from people who understand and can teach the business skills necessary for success. Run an exceptional pharmacy. Acquire, when the business justifies it, the technology needed to provide services that set you apart from the competition. Finally, remember this is a people business. Find ways to interact in a pleasant and positive manner with patients and others who can affect the success of the pharmacy. None of this is easy, but it can be done. Melrose Pharmacy is proof of that.

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