IPC Member Benefits

Olive City Pharmacy
Corning, California

The Friendly and Caring Staff at Olive City Pharmacy is At Your Service!

Olive City Pharmacy offers everything you come to expect from a community pharmacy. They provide excellent customer service, and offer competitive rates on prescriptions and over the counter items. IPC recently spoke with owner Charlie Williams about his role in the local community and his career as an independent pharmacist.

IPC:

Can you tell me about your history and how you became a pharmacist?

Charlie:

“I started out in pharmacy in 1978, that’s when I got licensed and started working for an independent. At that time they had just changed a law in California requiring skilled nursing facilities to have pharmacists do chart reviews. I did that for quite a while, and then I went to work for Longs Drugs for many years, in several different locations and cities. I ended up back in Stockton, where the University of the Pacific was, and at the time there was a severe pharmacist shortage. I met up with some of my old college friends and frat members, and became an adjunct professor for the college’s internship program. Then I had the opportunity to come back up to this area, where I’m originally from, so that worked out well. I came back here when CVS bought Longs out. At that time the corporate culture was changing a lot and I couldn’t be a pharmacist the way I wanted to be. I switched over to Walgreens for a while but since all the chains were headed in a more corporate direction the environment wasn’t much different from my previous position.”

IPC:

Is that what led you work in independent pharmacy?

Charlie:

“I was drawn to independent pharmacy because it’s more of a classic way of doing things and I wanted to be able to treat customers the way I would want to be treated. I really value the one-on-one relationship with the customers. Getting to know the people, and the mutual respect are important to me. In an independent environment there are no empty promises and we follow through with what we say we’re going to do. The focus is on customer service and being true to your word.

When I was growing up here there were two independents in town. I was interested in pharmacy and one of the independent pharmacy owners sponsored a slow pitch softball team. They had an opening on the team; I was 16 at the time I joined on even though I was much younger than the rest of the team. I learned a lot from the way he interacted with the community, he was a big influence on me. He eventually wrote me a reference letter to help me get into pharmacy school. A combination of growing up in a small community, appreciating the close community interaction, along with his influence is what got me interested in independent pharmacy.”

IPC:

Are you actively involved in the community?

Charlie:

“I am very involved with the Chamber of Commerce locally. I live in a neighboring town which is about the same size, located 10 miles away. A lot of people live here and work there and vice versa. I’m also very active with the church; I’m advisor of a thriving youth group. I’m on the governing board of our church, and I was vice president for three years. We’re trying to work with the other two churches in Glenn County to share a pastor. Many mainstream churches are having problems with growth and can’t afford a pastor on their own, so we have a unique plan that’s coming together and that’s one of the things I’ve been working on. I work with the interns at the church; matching them with a supervising pastor and helping them transition into permanent positions. I find that the teaching aspect is valuable.”

IPC:

What makes the store unique?

Charlie:

“Nothing really to write home about as far as standing out, we’ve only been open about a year. Our front-end is maybe 200 square feet; the whole store is just a little over 1,000 square feet. I did training at Longs on authorizing technicians; I helped develop the program and was one of the chain-wide trainers. I’ve been in a lot of stores and worked in a lot of different stores. When you go into a place there are certain things you learn to ask, you observe and use new ideas in your own store or incorporate them later.

I designed the pharmacy to emphasize keeping the counter space clutter free and made sure to create a good work flow system to grow into. That’s probably my main focus, keeping things streamlined. When you work in a pharmacy and have one computer where three people are working and all need access to it, you have to keep things orderly. It’s the details, like you need to have prescription pads at all the stations and that kind of thing.”

IPC:

How big is your staff?

Charlie:

“There are only two of us on staff currently so I’m here all the time. I do make time to attend the chamber events and community events whenever I’m not here. I talk to people at the senior center, and get to know the people there. That helps me form relationships and keeps me in touch with the local people.”

IPC:

How is your relationship with IPC? Have you been able to attend any events?

Charlie:

“The bigger events are on my bucket list, I haven’t been able to attend the IPC Conference yet. I did go to a CE dinner where we discussed the 340B program. It was hosted by Joe Herman (IPC Regional Account Director) and took place in Sacramento. I’ve known Joe for many years, since I was an intern for Longs. I also went to pharmacy school with Tom Boragno (IPC Regional Director of Pharmacy Services).

The relationship with IPC has been really great; I especially appreciated all the help during the grand opening. For that event I worked with Judy Sherburn (IPC Marketing Event Associate).

IPC overall does a really good job, it’s been great purchasing from you. We have the monthly rebates of course, that helps quite a bit. The support you’ve provided has been very helpful. Judy walked me through the grand opening process step by step. I had an idea for what we needed but didn’t know how to go about it. For example, I knew we needed a logo, but didn’t know where to get it designed. Judy was able to convert it to printed material once we got it designed. IPC provided all the prizes for the grand opening, I really appreciated that. Pharm Fresh was also very helpful. There’s just so much to learn, it’s great to have guidance. Joe Herman came in the other day and helped me talk through some issues the pharmacy has been facing. We discussed ways to make the business better; it helps take the load off. I’m very pleased with the service I’ve received.”

IPC:

I heard you had a really fun grand opening, can you tell me more about it?

Charlie:

“We had a contest for kids, where they shared their favorite thing about Corning. My mom is a school teacher and I really enjoy doing things for kids. Through the Glenn County office of education, our church does a foster family fun night where siblings get the chance to spend time with each other. It’s a good event, that’s where the inspiration for the grand opening contest came from. The kids could submit a photo, an essay or drawing showing what they love about Corning. One little girl really got into it and she took the first place prize, which included getting her name and picture in the local paper.

I’m a native of Corning and so is my pharmacy technician, our families have been here for years. That’s one of the things that makes our pharmacy stand out; it’s important to have someone local that people can trust. It all comes back, there’s a sense of helping out these people, generation after generation.”

IPC:

What are some of the struggles as an independent pharmacist?

Charlie:

“A lot of independent pharmacies have the same struggles I’m sure. We’re facing the problems with third party reimbursement and regulations. That type of thing has become more and more of a problem. In general when you start up a business there’s a lot to learn. It would have been nice to have some sort of manual on how to get everything going with licensing and state agencies. There aren’t a lot of concise materials or check lists that you can easily refer to. It’s nice to be able to turn to IPC for advice and for information.

There are two other independents in town. I don’t look it as competition because we’re all unique. Everyone has their own personality and hopefully everyone will succeed. We all stand out from the chains and hopefully people like what we do and who we are. Getting along with the quote unquote competitors goes a long way; we don’t try to stab each other in the back. Some people are going to like one store more than the other and that’s fine, it’s all about giving people the choice.”