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Tallahassee's Eastwood Pharmacy is a true family affair

Shelves lined with medicine stand in a room with the word "PRESCRIPTIONS" posted on the wall.
Tom Flanigan
WFSU Public Media
The inviting interior of Tallahassee's Eastwood Pharmacy.

Despite changing times and the rise of the big national chain drug stores, locally owned hometown pharmacies are still surviving - and often thriving. In the second of our series of reports on the subject, WFSU stopped by the Eastwood Pharmacy on Mahan Drive.

The Eastwood Pharmacy has been a fixture in the Eastwood Office Plaza since the whole complex was built in 1974. The Plaza was intended to house lots of medical offices and having a drug store right there just seemed to be make good sense. Today, the pharmacy is owned by:

“Anna Pawelczyk”

Along with her husband, Kyle. They’ve owned the place:

“Since January of 2020.”

At the same time the whole planet was about to be turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the Pawelczyks were about to undergo a baptism of fire as they struggled to assume control of their new business. Anna Pawelczyk called the experience “daunting.”

“It was! The world seemed to completely shut down, but my hours of operation didn’t change. We were here making sure that our patients were taken care of and nothing (was) halted because your health doesn’t stop and you can’t stop taking your medications and we’re here every single day if not longer. So, yeah. It was definitely brought to light during the whole COVID experience for everyone.”

Pawelczyk said what kept the enterprise going was its unique approach to doing business.

“We’re an independent pharmacy and we focus on patient care. The patient is ultimately the one who matters at the end of the day. There are things we can do that some of the big box stores can’t do. We can sit down with our patients and take the extra time that we need with our patients, go through their medication list and not have to worry about someone over my head telling me to do this amount of duties in this amount of time. I can focus on each and every one of my patients.”

Most important, said Paelczyk, is the kind of care those patients receive in her store.

“We can call you by name when you walk in the door. Because we know our patients, which may not mean much to some, but to us it means everything! We love everyone who comes through the door and you become family to us. We want to know about your mom, your dad, your cousin, your daughter, your son. All that means more and it’s not just about the medication that we’re dispensing to you. It’s about you and how you and your family are doing.”

Anna Pewelczyk said she received intensive training in that old-school style of customer service growing up in Marianna and working at the venerable Paramore’s Pharmacy, a downtown fixture since 1958. And now, as the owner of her own drug store, she hoped those people who are unhappy with their existing big chain drug stores, will give establishments like hers a try.

“When you walk into a chain pharmacy - we hear it all the time - from friends and family out in the community, at the ballpark, the movies or whatever, you just hear people complaining. You don’t have to do that! Find an independent pharmacy and go become one of their family members. You don’t have to put up with the chain. You can do much more.”

Sometimes, the small, independent drug store can do things that are beyond the capability of even the biggest chain pharmacies. We’ll explore that on our upcoming visit to another of Tallahassee’s hometown apothecaries.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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