The relationship between a pharmacist and his customers can be quite a personal one, in the same way the doctor is often a confidant to his patients. Those kind of relationships can inspire plenty of loyalty and goodwill.
That spirit was on full display last Saturday as the Woolwich Total Health Pharmacy held its grand reopening.
Township Mayor Sandy Shantz was there to participate in the ceremonial ribbon-cutting to commemorate the business’ new home. The pharmacy hasn’t moved all that far, however. In fact, it’s still in the same building where it’s always been at 10 Church St. W. but it now occupies the front of the building.
“It’s wider, brighter, more welcoming,” said owner Samer Mikhail.
In attendance on Saturday were Mikhail’s family: his wife Valera Shehata and two children 11-year-old Marcus and 10-year-old Marley.
“They were of course excited about the grand reopening,” said Mikhail. “They were very excited and they want to have a role in that.” To that end, Marcus and Marley got to hold the ribbon for the cutting.
But what really made the opening a success was the large crowd of people, the appreciative customer base that came to lend their support, check out the new space and partake of some social time.
For Mikhail, it’s proof positive of the quality of service he’s able to provide the community.
“I have seen their appreciation very clearly in the eyes of the people, by the shaking of hands, the happiness on the face,” he says. And smiling faces there certainly were at the reopening on Saturday.
“They were gathering they were talking, they were happy that they were in this place,” he says proudly.
Mikhail explains that he strives to slow down, to take the time to speak with his patients, to answer their questions, listen to their concerns and even advocate on behalf of them with their doctor.
“They feel more supported. And I feel more proud of my profession, doing it this way. Not because I’m a businessman and my main draw is just to sell medication. Of course, as a business you need grow; but I need to grow as a health professional pharmacist in the community that people will [trust].
“That there’s a pharmacist in the community called Sam that they can depend on.”
Mikhail is the third person to take ownership of the pharmacy, which has been active in the community for about 15 years, he says. Mikhail purchased the business from the previous owners in 2007.
“I felt at that time it’s the time to operate and manage a store on my own,” he said.
After working for the business for several years as a pharmacist, as well as a number of other pharmacies in Ontario, he says he felt he was ready. So when they offered to sell the business to him, Mikhail jumped at the opportunity.
The decision to move to the front of building came when the landlord began to renovate the building. The new store space was offered to Mikhail, and he again seized the opportunity. The result is a pharmacy that’s able to continue servicing the much larger community that has grown since he first took over.
While the grand reopening was held Saturday, the pharmacy itself moved into its new home in the summer, over the course of a weekend. Because of the fast transition, Mikhail and his crew were able to move the entire store without missing a beat.
Woolwich Total Health Pharmacy was the only business in the building that remained open when the renovations were announced in 2016 by the real estate company, Kain Group.
While the community came out to congratulate Mikhail and his family, he, in turn, expressed his gratitude to back to residents for accepting him, making him feel very much a part of the community.