The new family pharmacy

Published 6:15pm Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Niles Family Pharmacy is located at 70 E. Main St., downtown Niles
For information, call (269) 683-1400

Haider Alwishah is all business as members of the community and customers file into the Niles Family Pharmacy on the day of it’s grand opening with the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce.

He keeps is eyes bouncing between those searching for items on the pharmacy’s shelves, those introducing themselves to him and the checkout, making sure everyone is being helped.

Just a couple of days prior, Alwishah, co-owner of the pharmacy was practically bouncing with excitement as product was being priced, entered into the computer system and put on the shelves.

Since the pharmacy’s rather quiet official opening at the end of last month, he said he’s seen “very positive” results.

For Alwishah, who has had experience working at chain store pharmacies like Rite Aid and Walgreens, Niles Family Pharmacy presents a unique opportunity.

“(We want) to help out anybody in the community as much as possible,” Alwishah said.

In order to do that, Alwishah said the pharmacy offers free delivery to patients and can direct mail prescriptions.

“That’s really helpful for a lot of our customers and it’s really convenient for elderly customers or those without transportation,” he said.

And, he added, he can direct mail prescriptions to snowbirds, who vacation in the warmer states during the winter season.

Already, Alwishah said he has been able to save some of the initial patients money on prescriptions as compared to some competitors.

The pharmacy’s parent company operates just about a dozen similar pharmacies in the state and combine personal customer service, help and advice that some might not find at larger stores where pharmacists are sometimes hidden behind with counter, with a wide variety of medications.

“It’s patient centered,” said Chelsea Clark, an intern at the pharmacy.

Niles Family Pharmacy works with instate wholesalers and distributors of generic brand prescriptions, which Alwishah said allows them to offer medications at competitive prices.

“We try to buy a lot of our generics, a lot of our brands from a company that gives us really good pricing,” he said.
Along with the name brand medications, Niles Family Pharmacy’s shelves are stocked.

Stepping behind the raised counter, Alwishah moves toward a small side space, where a computer sits on a small side table under shelves lined with “raw ingredients.”

Alwishah said the pharmacy will also specialize in compounding, a pharmaceutical specialty of combining raw ingredients to recreate specialized medications, saving customers money and allowing the pharmacist to provide medications for unique ailments.

“This is a specialty,” he said.

Compounding also allows the pharmacy to create medications for animals.

Though there was a sense of excitement during the grand opening Thursday, earlier that week Alwishah acknowledged the challenges of opening the business.

“There is definitely a lot of challenges,” he said. “Trying to compete with bigger chains is really hard.”

So while the company works to provide more competitive pricing, the pharmacy also focuses on building better relationships with their customers.

Alwishah, who graduated from the University of Michigan two years ago and left the metro Detroit area and it’s tough job market for Niles, said one thing he and employees, Clark and Ashley Lutz found through their work with other pharmacies was an impersonal nature due in part to strict guidelines.

When customers come in for over the counter medications or prescriptions, Alwishah said he, Clark and Lutz keep up on any discounts or rebates available to pass on to the customer while they’re in store, saving them money even while they wait.

It’s something they say builds loyalty and trust with patients and customers and it’s something they all hope will keep them coming back.

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