Two local boys go up against the chain stores with superior service at Davis Brothers Pharmacy in the Northern Panhandle.
What Jeff Davis saw during his 2006 high school job-shadowing stint in a pharmacy changed his life.
“The big box chains didn’t offer patients the counseling that they should be receiving,” he says. Patients on multiple medications especially need attention and advice. “They deserved the pharmacist’s time, and I didn’t feel they were receiving that.”
Davis graduated from West Virginia University’s pharmacy school in 2013, went home to New Cumberland, and took a position in one of those chains.
But he has entrepreneurship in his blood. His family owned a pizza joint and two car washes, and he and his younger brother, Joey, had worked for their parents and knew first-hand what it takes to run a business. So in 2014, Davis started an independent pharmacy. Joey was already on the pharmacy track at WVU, so they called it Davis Brothers Pharmacy. They opened a second store in Chester in 2016 to serve northern Hancock County, and their niche—high-level pharmacist attention—wins customers over.
A new diabetic patient went in overwhelmed by her medications, Davis tells, blood sugar out of control. He sat down with her, explained her meds one by one, and offered to organize and pre-package them. They also agreed on several worst foods she could live without. One month later, her morning sugar levels had dropped from the mid-200s to 160 and less. “She said, ‘I’m so happy I transferred to you!’ and I said, ‘Let’s keep going.’” Adding a low-impact walk several days a week brought her sugars down even further the next month. That’s how a pharmacist’s personal attention can boost patient confidence and health.
Seven years in, Davis Brothers Pharmacy is holding its own among the chains. Davis urges people to try their local independent pharmacy. “I’d be willing to bet that you will have a much better experience.”
How do you see the role of a pharmacy in a community?
Jeff Davis: Pharmacies used to dispense medicine and that was it. Now it’s twofold. I look at us as leaders in the community, because pharmacists are one of the most trusted professions. Many times I hear, “I depend on you”—sometimes, “even more than my doctor.” And we’re also an integral part of the health care team now, and not just on drug interactions: If we look at the whole picture and think there’s a better option, we can make a suggestion to the doctor.
What’s challenging for an independent in a chain drugstore world?
JD: You do have people that will go wherever just to find the lowest price. But you also have a group that truly believes in shopping locally, and another group that wants the best service even if it costs a little more—they know us and trust us, so they will come to us. Also, some insurance companies dictate where people have to get their medicine or require them to go through the mail. That’s an unfortunate circumstance, but we can’t control it.
JD: If even one person says “I really thank you,” “I cannot imagine what I would do if you were not here,” I go home with complete job satisfaction. Even if no one says it, I know at the end of the day that I gave 100 percent and genuinely cared about my patients.
How do the two of you make the partnership work?
JD: Having worked together all those years, we knew going into this that working together in the pharmacy was not going to be a problem. Growing up together brings that trust factor—someone that you know and trust, that’s invaluable.