Neighborhood drug store thriving after 30 years

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Med Shoppe

“If you take care of the customer, the business will take care of itself.”

Joe Ibssa attributes customer service to the longevity of his business, The Medicine Shoppe, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Winter Garden. Most of the 12 employees have been with the company for many years; store manager Peggy Love was hired when it first opened.

“They are the face of The Medicine Shoppe,” Ibssa said.

The staff is at the drive-through window when customers pull up to drop off or pick up a prescription. They are at the counter when someone steps inside. And they are in your driveway, bringing your order through The Medicine Shoppe’s free delivery service.

“Lots of senior citizens who don’t have a car or can’t drive depend on The Medicine Shoppe for their medicine,” Ibssa said.

It was estimated that the Winter Garden business has handled two million prescriptions in its 30 years.

The local pharmacy, at 646 S. Dillard St., does more than dispense medicine, though. It sells medical supplies and equipment; supports and partners with several area charities, including Shepherd’s Hope, providing prescriptions at no charge to needy patients; and educates the public on living with diabetes, something Ibssa is passionate about.

“Diabetes is a very prominent disease,” he said. “We give classes and workshops on diabetes management, training customers how to use their blood glucose machine, how to watch their diet…”

A diabetic shoe-fitter is on staff at The Medicine Shoppe, and Ibssa said he works with physicians to get prescriptions for the shoes when necessary. Diabetics sometimes experience a change in the shape of their foot or need to wear special inserts to avoid foot pain.

“This is just another way of enhancing our patients’ health,” he said. “We work closely with physicians to properly treat the whole body, not just the symptom.”

One program offered is medication therapy management. Ibssa explained that if a customer is taking more than one medication, The Medicine Shoppe staff looks for drug interactions.

Another feature that Ibssa highlighted is the store’s full compounding lab, which provides customized medications if, for instance, a pill isn’t available commercially or if a child needs special flavoring to make the medicine easier to swallow. What people might not know is that the pharmacy will make medication for pets with a prescription from a veterinarian, he added.

The hormone therapy program is another way the company reaches out to customers on a personal level. If, for example, a woman is taking multiple medications to balance hormones, The Medicine Shoppe lab can create one pill that incorporates all the ingredients. The store also partners with a lab that provides saliva kits that test whether a woman is low in progesterone, estrogen or other hormones, Ibssa said. Once the results are returned, a customized hormone treatment is created.

Ibssa bought The Medicine Shoppe from Ron Chesser, the original owner, 15 years ago. He is a graduate of Canadian University and holds a consultant pharmacist certificate from the University of Florida. He relocated to Orlando in 1991, working for Eckerd Drugs as a pharmacist, manager and team leader for several stores.

Chesser originally opened The Medicine Shoppe at 405 S. Dillard St. in a building that previously housed Cumberland Farms. The pharmacy later moved to 634 S. Dillard, in the West Orange Shopping Center, with a final relocation to the current site to begin drive-through window service.

When Chesser sold the pharmacy, he moved to West Virginia to pastor a rural church. Today, he remains in West Virginia, still serving the community as a pharmacist at J&B Drug Store.

Last month, The Medicine Shoppe hosted an anniversary celebration and customer appreciation with a big grilling party in the parking lot. The West Orange Chamber of Commerce also recognized the store’s milestone.


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