Owner of Friendly Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy at 2258 N. Front St.
Interviewed in July 2021
Editor’s note: The following responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
1. How were things for you and your business in the beginning of the pandemic? How would you compare the state of your business from then to now?
At the beginning of the pandemic, fewer patients were walking into the pharmacy, and the majority of our prescriptions became deliveries. The difference now is that many patients are receiving primary care through telemedicine, but a lot of our patients may not have the ability to have phones to manage their health care. The doctors were just phoning those orders in or electronically submitting them. So that sort of changed the landscape of how pharmacy services were being provided.
2. Can you describe how the City of Philadelphia has supported business owners throughout the pandemic? Have you felt supported by the city?
I don’t know if it’s necessarily the City of Philadelphia, but there was stimulus money and personal protective equipment (PPE) money to help us get through times when we didn’t want to lay people off. People needed their jobs.
3. Can you share your experience with managing safety in your business throughout the pandemic? (mask mandates, capacity restrictions, social distancing, etc.)
Obviously, we were all wearing masks. Right now, we’re all vaccinated. I advocate vaccination. We still have our x’s on the floor for social distancing. We kept the number of people in the store somewhat limited. We turned off our lottery machine because we didn’t want the traffic. We also had to make sure that anybody coming into the store had a mask on. We would give masks to people and [some people would refuse to wear them] and that sometimes got a little confrontational, but we managed.
4. Can you share any moments in the last year where you faced a challenge that required you to find new ways to operate due to the pandemic?
As I said, the delivery piece was a little intense. We added staff to make those deliveries and coordinate those deliveries. A lot of our seniors who receive deliveries struggle with getting down their steps or getting to their front doors. So we had to support the drivers over the phone on how to handle individual situations. That took away from the normal flow of what we do in the pharmacy.
5. What is the best way for people to support your business?
Let us fill their prescriptions. As our neighborhood is gentrifying, a lot of the people we’ve been servicing for the last 25 years have moved away. [The younger people moving in] are not as inclined to come to a small independent pharmacy, as opposed to a chain pharmacy that they see advertised on TV.
Editors: Khysir Carter, Jillian Bauer-Reese, Solmaira Valerio, Zari Tarazona / Designer: Henry Savage