Broken Arrow Family Drug blog
Happy anniversary to us!
On Monday, March 1, we celebrated 10 years in business. Actually, we opened on Leap Year Day (February 29), 2000. There wasn’t any fanfare to the anniversary – as a matter of fact, I would have forgotten all about it unless Andi had reminded me. We don’t plan on having any sort of celebrations until the weather warms a little.
In hindsight, it’s pretty impressive that ANY independently-owned business makes it over 5 years anymore. When I think about all of the businesses that have come and gone over the years, it makes me a little proud that we found a way to succeed in this business climate.
Ten years ago, when we had our ribbon-cutting ceremony, folks from the business community asked me how we intended to compete with the ‘big boys’. I gave them my response in my presentation – the ‘big boys’ are not OUR competition. We are THEIR competition.
I call our store the ‘black hole’ of pharmacies. When people come in, they stay. All I ask for is one shot – and sometimes that’s all you’ll get anyway. When people come in, they instantly know that we aren’t the ‘chain’ store. We take care of them; we get to know them by name. We don’t tell them that it will be next week when we order a product for them. If we don’t have it, we try to find it for them – even if it means they’ll go to a competitor to get it (I know they’ll come back).
There are quite a few things that we’ve learned over the years. First and foremost is probably money management. We didn’t throw around money by any means, but when you pay yourself last, you learn to balance your wants and needs pretty quickly.
I also learned that there are things more important than the business. A couple of years into the business’ existence, Andi had a pretty rough health spell (she’s great now, praise God). It was a hard time for us from a business, health, and management perspective. I would have found a way to give it all up if I needed to, though, to get her healthy. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.
We’ve also had our share of great patients (and some real characters) cross our threshold. There was Walt, my patient who was one of my patients at the old Wal-Mart job. Walt was a coin collector, and during our first couple of weeks, he brought by an early 1900’s silver dollar (framed) for us to keep as our symbolic “first dollar”. I still have it on my desk. We lost Walt a couple of years ago, but still remember him fondly.
Another that stands out is Robert Learned Hand. Boy, was he a character. Robert was a smallish Native American artist (some of his work can be seen here). In his younger years, he worked as a stunt double in Western movies, and he knew some of the legends. He broke up his body pretty badly during those times, and as he aged, it showed.
He also collected guns. He would bring in rifles, pistols, you name it. The staff would freak out when he handed a gun to me. I still vividly remember him handing me a single-shot Derringer to show off. For the life of me, I don’t know why someone didn’t call the police when they saw him walk into the store with a rifle.
Robert had difficulty breathing, and one day he asked if he could come to the pharmacy to do some of his artwork, because he just seemed to have an easier time breathing in our place. I invited him over, and he brought his easel and pastels and did 2 drawings in the store that day. He gave me one to keep, because he didn’t think it looked quite the way he wanted. He signed it and I still have it.
We lost Robert about 4 years ago, but the memory lives on.
I guess if there’s a really hard part to owning your own pharmacy, it’s in losing your customers. Illness and death are part of the business, but they’re never easy, especially if you were close to the patient.
There are plenty of happy times as well. We’ve seen quite a few kids grow up. We’ve seen births and marriages. And it’s been fun having our own little part in that. And I guarantee you that a day NEVER goes by without us laughing with many of our patients.
And so, we look forward to the next 10 years and beyond. What will the future bring? Who knows? I’m sure there will be business challenges – after all, the federal government will own us all some day. But we’ll still find a way to be good stewards of what God has given us. And we’ll still take care of people, because that will never go out of style.