New London Pharmacy carves a niche in Chelsea

August 21, 2006

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to have customers fly in from another state to buy products from your pharmacy and to seek your advice, just ask Abby Fazio, R.Ph. Fazio, who co-owns New London Pharmacy with her husband, has been catering to customers from out of state as well as to neighborhood folks in New York City's trendy Chelsea neighborhood since 1995.

What makes New London worth the trip?

Fazio has turned the 46-year-old pharmacy into a European-style apothecary. In addition to filling prescriptions and selling common over-the-counter products, the store is chock-full of organic tinctures and creams, phytonutrients, exclusive upscale European beauty treatments, homeopathic products, herbs, and supplements.

The pharmacy is situated in the back of the store and there is a counseling room adjacent to the counter. Dubbing the counseling room "the hit of the prescription department," Fazio said that many of her patients feel they are at a doctor's office and tend to linger a while to ask her advice.

Employing three full-time and one part-time pharmacists as well as a full-time nutritionist gives Fazio the time to dole out advice as well as to take product tips from customers, many of whom are actors.

After buying out the pharmacy's partners in 1995, Fazio and her husband, who is also a pharmacist, began to face competition from the national chains that were beginning to come into the neighborhood. "We didn't know what to do," she said. "We started competing with prices, bringing OTCs from South Carolina. That worked for a while."

Realizing that they needed to implement additional strategies to outpace the competition, the Fazios decided to renovate the pharmacy, since their last renovation dated back to the 1970s. Fazio was impressed by a design she saw in a German pharmacy, so she hired the architects who had designed it. After the renovation was completed, Fazio began attending gift shows here and in Europe and started bringing in many items that other pharmacies didn't carry.

"Whatever I bought, people liked," boasted Fazio. One item which has been flying out of the store is 24-hour Miracle Cream by Embryolisse, which sells for about $20.

Conceding that the most difficult part of converting the front end has been to convince upscale manufacturers that their product belonged in her pharmacy, Fazio said, "A lot of doors closed on me in the beginning. It was very difficult to convince them of what I had in mind for the future."

But Fazio did convince several manufacturers. New London carries Creed perfume; Perfectil, which is an oral supplement for hair, nails and skin; and The Organic Pharmacy's skin care products, including its Rose Hip Oil serum.

Having a full-time nutritionist on staff who offers free consultations has also been a boon to New London pharmacy. "We work together to choose the best companies to carry. She has brought in herbs and supplements and attends seminars once a month," Fazio said.

Customers from about 20 states have called on Fazio and her nutritionist for advice and for customized regimens. She enjoyed telling Drug Topics about two women who flew in for the weekend from Chicago to pick her brains.

Fazio's latest venture is a line of upscale vitamins that are sold under the New London Pharmacy label. Manufactured by Reliance, the vitamins fetch between $10 and $20 a bottle. She also recently unveiled an upscale French-made organic soap with an orange verte scent that is sold under the New London name. She is talking to a small distributor about selling her soap in other stores. A body lotion and shower gel are also on the drawing board.