Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 113

LOCAL BUSINESS life Photos supplied by Gibbs & Gurnell An elegant balance of old and new On the 1st November 2007 Ryde’s oldest pharmacy (the earliest records at the pharmacy date back to 1836) changed hands for the first time in over 30 years. One year on, we discover what’s been happening at Gibbs & Gurnell ‘‘When I came to the island, I was very clear about what I wanted to achieve in the first year. My first task was harder than you’d think – to sit back and watch for a couple of months,” says Anne Loh, pharmacist at Ryde’s oldest pharmacy, Gibbs & Gurnell. The shop, with its elegant mahogany fittings and huge medicine jars, carries a special air of tradition. Anne therefore felt that, before she made any changes, she needed to ease herself into the local community and find out who her customers were and what they wanted. “After all,” she says, “the business had been running successfully for 170 years!” Although her loyal staff had between them been working at the pharmacy for over 20 years, there hadn’t been a regular pharmacist there for some time, so the first benefit Anne was able to offer her customers was a consistent service. She took a long look at what had made the shop so successful for such a long time. “Historically it stocked a large selection of fragrances, bath and gift items, so rather than trying to stock a little of everything like most community pharmacies I focussed on a comprehensive range of over the counter medicines, high quality vitamin supplements and herbal remedies,” she explains. “And I really wanted to develop the range of fragrances.” The shop began to take shape. A lot of old display equipment was removed to make more space so customers could browse, or consult the staff about some of the products they might not have seen before. Behind the scenes a well appointed consultation room has been created. Here, Anne offers a wide range of services such as smoking cessation, blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring. She screens for diabetes, offers a weight loss programme and reviews medicine use. The consultation room also provides privacy when needed: “Often in the past, people may have gone The Island's new funky radio station www.wightfm.com to the doctor with problems which could easily be treated by their pharmacist, simply because they had nowhere private to discuss sensitive matters.” Many new customers have now handed over the ordering of their prescription medication to Anne and her team. The Gibbs & Gurnell delivery van has become a familiar sight as it delivers medication to customers at home and work in and around Ryde. Anne has certainly gone to town on her selection of fragrances. “They’re attracting customers from all over the Island,” she says. “You’d probably have to visit one of the department stores on the mainland to find a comparable range.” The increase in business during the first year has exceeded all expectations, and Anne is quick to give credit to her team of dedicated, well trained and experienced staff. Her sensible “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it“approach seems to be paying off. “I added a fresh eye, and we’ve maintained a good old-fashioned service,” she smiles. “I think we’ve got the ba