New East Falls Pharmacy on Conrad delivers to your door, coordinates healthcare benefits
A pharmacy that delivers in the Falls? What is this, 1933? No hucksters, coal or ice merchants anymore, but Kofi Gbomita is bringing back a small town pharmacy to the neighborhood. He’s set up shop on suddenly bustling Conrad Street across from Falls Flowers, which itself was once the site of a Falls pharmacy.
It’s been tough for local pharmacies in the past to thrive with a giant chain like Rite Aid right around the corner, but this time Kofi believes the little guy has the advantage.
We caught up with him (and Dustin, a pharmacy intern from Temple U) last week to find out how he got started, his plans for the future, and why smaller can be better when it comes to pharmacies in the Falls.
How did you get the idea for a pharmacy in the Falls?
A lot of it had to do with a local resident who used to work at the pharmacy across the street (before it was the flower shop) and she was the one who thought it would be a good idea to bring a pharmacy back to Conrad Street. She really helped me see the possibilities here.
How will you survive Rite-Aid?
We actually don’t worry about Rite-Aid. We’ve got two vastly different approaches to healthcare. They’re more about volume. We’re more personal. We almost have to be because we’re so small (only two full-time employees and one part-timer). When you come in here, you’re going to see the same faces and we like that. It gives us a chance to get to know people better.
Can’t they just price you out of business?
Everybody think it just comes down to price. Maybe in the past that’s been the difference. But with the Obamacare and Medicare regulations, you don’t get paid by insurance companies if you can’t show you’re being effective, and that means you have to consult with your clients to really find out how they’re doing with their meds. And that’s our strength.
You can’t do that as well if you’re Rite-Aid, because they’re about volume — getting people in and out — so they don’t have time to really consult with their clients. We do.
The local delivery service helps with that too. It’s another way to stay in touch with our clients.
What’s been the biggest surprise?
That we’ve gotten so many millennial customers. We knew there’d be older residents who really appreciated a store that was close and took time to work with them about their health concerns. But the younger folks, that’s been a surprise.
I think it’s because the Conrad Street corridor is starting to come back, with the art gallery and the pet store and the stylist opening up recently. That’s drawing younger people to Conrad. It’s exciting to be on the ground floor.
What are your next big steps?
Facebook posting. We’ve had a company set up our page. The next step is to start posting on it. I’ll be in charge of that. The key there is we want to be informative, but not too serious about what we share. Of course we want to educate people, but we also want it to be fun.
Local business partnerships. We’ll be partnering with local businesses, like Street and Curb. We’d like to really get involved with community events and Street and Curb has been taking the lead with organizing events, so we think that’s a good place to start. Eventually though, we’d love to work with businesses all along Conrad and throughout the Falls.
Q&A Bonus: East Falls Quickfire
A few neighborhood questions for Kofi and Dustin.
Favorite place to eat? Laxmi’s, the Indian restaurant on Tilden street. The chicken tikka masala is my favorite — extra spicy is to die for.
What business does the Falls need? I think the community could use a shipping center, like UPS, FedEx, or DHL. We are looking into incorporating such a service at the pharmacy.
Why East Falls? Many of my friends at Temple live in East Falls and they told me I should check it out. I knew a little bit about the Falls having roller-bladed down Kelly Drive on my way to school.
I’m excited to live in a neighborhood where I can walk to just about anything I need. I am now in my final year of pharmacy school and East Falls is my favorite place to have ever lived. The people are friendlier here and will say hello as you pass them on the sidewalks and complete strangers have stopped to help me dig my car out of the snow.
Favorite places? The best haircut I’ve every gotten was at Upper Cuts, I love Indian food (Laxmi’s Indian Grille), and I may have an addiction to the pizza at Golden Crust. I’m also a fan of Falls Taproom and Epicure Cafe.
What business are you excited about? (Besides the pharmacy, of course) Can’t wait for the pet store to open (Sunnyside and Conrad). Rabbit and cat supplies are really the only things I have to drive out of town for.
East Falls Pharmacy
Conrad & Sunnyside in East Falls
9 am – 5 pm Monday thru Friday; Saturday 10 am – 2 pm (closed Sunday)
3500 – 3508 Sunnyside Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19129