Until I interviewed her for this story, I had never met Shahida Choudhry, Pharm.D., the primary pharmacist at the new Palms Pharmacy, which has been open for a few months in The Shoppes at The Pointe plaza in Tampa Palms (between Ciccio Cali and Stonewood Grill & Tavern).
But, meeting this genuinely sweet, high-energy fellow New Yawka (she’s originally from Brooklyn) at her place of business for the first time felt more like reconnecting with an old friend than it did a story interview.
The New Tampa resident says that she and her family relocated to Florida a few years after she graduated with her Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from Long Island University in Brooklyn.
“And, what I saw was that the big chain pharmacies dominated the market here, even though their prices aren’t really that great and they can’t offer the level of service that a small, neighborhood pharmacy like ours can,” Shahida says. “Unlike those big chains, we are community-based and focus on each of our patients’ specific needs and requirements. We want to partner with you to help assist you in providing the best care and attention you deserve.”
The Palms Pharmacy, which also includes pharmacy technician Naivis Valdes, helps you feel at home with its warm, earthy decor and truly competitive pricing that those big chains should be able to match on your over-the-counter (OTC) medications and prescriptions, but they choose not to do so.
So, how does a small, neighborhood pharmacy compete on price? Shahida says that she has found a great wholesaler who makes sure that her prices beat or are at least on a par with what you can find at the large superstores, without the long lines and colorful clientele you’ll find at those impersonal department store-type locations.
I selected four over-the-counter items available at Palms Pharmacy that I buy fairly regularly and compared the store’s prices to those at one of the national chains located just up the street. As it turns out, not only was the pricing better at Palms Pharmacy, I believe that it would be worth paying the same or a little more in order to get the caring, personalized service with a smile that every customer at Palms Pharmacy receives.
I started with 100 caplets of Extra Strength Tylenol. The local chain’s price was $9.99 for Tylenol and $7.99 for the chain’s own generic equivalent. The Tylenol was a little more expensive at the Palms Pharmacy, but the generic equivalent cost only $3.59, or less than half of the generic cost at the chain.
The next item I selected was the Mucinex 1200 mg (of guaifenesin), which was on sale at the chain store for $13.99 (reduced from the $17.29 regular price) for 14 tablets. The same item’s regular price at the Palms Pharmacy was just $13.09, a 90-cent savings over the chain store’s sale price.
All of the items I selected cost less at Palms Pharmacy than they did at the chain and Shahida says she has no plans to add foodstuffs, greeting cards and other items that you don’t need to buy at a “drug store.”
“The only items we’re adding are those OTC medications and natural probiotic-type products that our customers request,” she says. As an example, I told her that although the store had a nice selection of liquid tears, I didn’t see the brands of contact lens rewetting drops I like and she said she would be happy to add them.
“We’ve purposely left some space on our shelves for customer requests,” Shahida says. “We want you to know that this truly is your neighborhood pharmacy.”
More Than Just OTC Meds
In addition to OTC medications and health care items, the Palms Pharmacy also has a very competitively priced selection of not just vitamins, but also probiotics and other nutritional supplements (top photo on next page), many of which are free of gluten and other allergens, for adults and children. There’s also flavored medications available for children and pets and yes, the Palms Pharmacy also compounds medications in the store.
Speaking of those healthy options, if I were you, I’d ask Shahida and Naivis for a sample of the all-natural ZumBar soaps (right), which claim that if they were, “Any more natural, you’d be naked.”
And, if you’re into aromatherapy, the Palms Pharmacy carries the complete Now Essential Oils line. You’ll also find infertility supplements and diabetic supplies. Palms Pharmacy also offers local delivery of your medications and other purchases and accepts major insurance plans. Shahida even promises easy prescription transfers for those who would prefer to relax and enjoy a free cup of coffee if there is a wait, rather than wait in line with the masses.
For info about the Palms Pharmacy (17008 Palm Pointe Dr), which is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., call 252-9063, visit ThePalmsPharmacy.com or see the ad on page 14 of this issue. The store is a member business of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce and held a WCCC ribbon cutting a few months ago.