Khalid Hammad fell hook, line and sinker for Sidney during one of its defining pursuits: crab off Bevan Fishing Pier.
“When I moved from Edmonton to Victoria three years ago, I came with a friend to do some crab fishing and I fell in love with the town,” he said.
This metaphorical love-at-first-sight turned into a long-term commitment during the COVID-19 pandemic. While working for a chain pharmacy, Hammad thought he could offer more personalized service.
Following discussions with a local real estate agent, Hammad and his then-business partner opened Oceanside Pharmacy in the 2500-block of Beacon Avenue in November 2020. Coming to Sidney generally, and that location specifically, are promising on several counts. For one, Sidney has an older demographic. Second, its downtown core is growing with the addition of new residential developments.
“We didn’t see any pharmacy, so we thought with an elderly population, having a pharmacy at this end of town would be more convenient,” Hammad said.
In fact, Hammad delivers prescriptions himself, a practice he plans to expand as public health measures around COVID-19 ease. He is also exploring ways to specialize his business.
Hammad arrived in Canada in 2002 as an immigrant from Egypt, where he completed a chemistry degree. “And I got my pharmacy degree from the University of Alberta (in Edmonton) in 2009,” he said.
Hammad is not yet fully settled on the Saanich Peninsula, as he commutes from the University of Victoria, where his wife is working on her Ph.D in computer engineering. But he and his family plan to become permanent residents of the Peninsula in the future with an eye to getting involved in the community, having already experienced its hospitality.
“It’s a beautiful community and everybody wants to really support a local business,” he said.
Hammand and his two sons, aged six and four, have in turn tried to help the community during the heatwave in late June, when they handed out free water bottles to individuals passing the store.
So how often does Hammad head out crabbing these days, now that he is own boss?
“I try to do it every couple of weeks or so,” he said. “And the first time out, I was successful. Me and my family caught about nine.”
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