When Colwood pharmacist Yoshi Ito got married last summer at least a quarter of his guests were his clients.
It may sound bizarre to people used to a ‘here are your pills, take them with food’ relationship, but when Ito, 32, and his business partner Henry Kwok, 35, opened People’s Pharmacy in 2016 they agreed to do something different.
The old Rexall site on Sooke Road offered them an opportunity to build something in a community still small enough that personal relationships could be formed. Close to six years later, Ito said he’s gotten to know nearly every person who’s come through their doors.
“I used to have people come on in here and sit down and talk to me for hours,” he said. Nowadays, the shop is too busy for that, but Ito still takes the time to chat with every client, sometimes inviting them over for barbecues, and often delivering their prescriptions to their doorstep.
Ito said it’s no trouble, most people live more or less along his drive home. But for Ed Paquette, who’s in his 70s, the personal touches are meaningful.
“It’s very reminiscent of my youth and the local store,” he said. He recalled one time when he told Ito and Kwok that he couldn’t remember all the medications he was taking, and next thing he knew they had made him a wallet-sized print-out of them.
Sometimes, clients help the pharmacists too. Ito said the only reason he and his now-wife met was because a client of his introduced them. That client also delivered a speech at their wedding.
“I know six years isn’t much but I’ve got to see so many families go through so many different things and they become your friends,” Ito said.
As Colwood grows, his only fear is that it’ll become impossible to know every client in the future. They’re considering expanding to keep up, but pharmacists – like all health-care workers on the Island – are in short supply, Ito said.
“I can’t make another copy of myself,” he joked.
For now though, Ito and Kwok plan on continuing to deliver the most personalized service they can.
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