Independent Superstars: The ones to watch

October 22, 2007

This is a salute to outstanding independent pharmacies that were nominated by their wholesalers.

They are the kings of customer service; they make success look easy. They are the independent pharmacy standouts or the diamonds of the first water. To find out who these exceptions are, Drug Topics once again invited wholesalers across the United States to nominate their independent pharmacy customers that excel in four categories:

Meet the pharmacy champs:

When David Marley, Pharm.D., opened Marley Drug in Winston-Salem, N.C., in November 2003, he never dreamed that his pharmacy would be so popular after only two months of operation. "That was the year we had the bad, early hit of flu that hit the kids," he recalled. "We were the only store in two counties that was able to get TamiFlu [oseltamivir, Roche] to keep the kids alive. We really earned our stripes the second month we were open. All of the doctors in town knew we had TamiFlu, and we had people coming in from all over the place."

Marley emphasized that he's always believed in doing things differently. That is why he squeezed a clinic room and a cholesterol machine into his first location. He also made sure he was trained in giving vaccinations before he went into business.

With Eckerd, two CVS pharmacies, and a Wal-Mart breathing down his neck, Marley still isn't nervous. That's because he insists on training his staff to provide excellent service. "From my front-end clerks to the person who does refills, they all know that we exist for the customers," he said.

Marley Drug is also reaping the rewards of several creative initiatives. Marley installed a mini-spa in the pharmacy in April when he moved to a bigger location. "We have a room in the waiting area where we put a fully automatic Japanese massage chair," he said. "We offer that free to patients while they are waiting."

An aromatherapy section in the room is yet another big draw. "We carry a high-end line of spa lotions and creams that can be purchased," Marley explained.

Marley also expanded to carry a full line of durable medical equipment now that he has more space.

Exceptional merchandising/advertising/promotion

Dale Johnson, R.Ph., owner of Boaz Discount Drugs in Boaz, Ala., was praised by his nominator with the following words, "Dale celebrates American Pharmacists Month by having huge promotions and giveaways in his store. His customers have come to expect wonderful-looking displays and bargains throughout the years."