COARSEGOLD – Aaron Draper loves being a pharmacist. It’s something he says he was born to do, and now he’s bringing that passion for his profession to a new venture in Coarsegold.
Draper has leased the building where the Coarsegold Village Thrift Shoppe used to be, and work is underway to prepare for opening a full-service pharmacy and drug store some time in April.The new owner has been doing his homework when it comes to what folks in Coarsegold want, and he plans to shape his business plan to meet those needs, and fulfill his desire to be of service.
“You have to have the heart to be of service to people, and I love it,” says Draper of his chosen profession. “You’re helping people with something they’re struggling with; helping them to get better. They don’t want to be suffering.”
Draper was raised in the California desert town of Barstow, and graduated in 1998 from the University of Kansas. He started his own company in 2007 and worked as a Relief Pharmacist, traveling all over the valley, from Redding to Bakersfield. He even filled in at Vons in Oakhurst, and at an independent pharmacy in Mariposa.
Currently the president at Universal Pharmacy Services in Fresno, Draper began toying with the idea of opening a store in Coarsegold about a year-and-a-half ago. With friends in the area, he and his family visited many times, and the idea of starting a business in the mountains began to percolate.
“I thought this was a neat little town,” he said. “I started talking to people and exploring ideas about what they wanted, and what I could bring to the table.”
So the search for an appropriate property got underway, and when the thrift shop moved up the road, the vacated property at 35300 Highway 41 seemed the perfect fit.
They have been hard at work on the building, and hope to have the County sign off on the project by the end of the week.
“I’m not stressing over that time frame,” says Draper. “Our contractor is ready to go, and we’ll open when everything is in place.”
Coarsegold Pharmacy Wellness & Compounding will be a full-service drug store with cough and cold medicine, vitamins, durable medical equipment, skin care products, health and wellness items and all the merchandise one would expect to find in any business of this kind.
“We won’t be as grand as, say, a Walgreens,” says Draper. “But I’m going to make the best impact I can, and find out what people want.”
One thing he believes people want is delivery. Draper says his store will provide free delivery on a next-day basis, and charge a nominal fee if customers need their medications delivered on the same day.
He will customize his daily delivery schedule as it becomes apparent where the needs are, but plans to service North Fork and Raymond twice a week. Those outlying towns could be included in the daily route schedule if demand is high enough for those services.
Draper says people may think that a local shop would have higher prices, but as part of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy group, he joins some 3,800 independent stores in some major buying power,
“People will find that our prices are extremely competitive,” he says. “And we’re going to offer some services that only a mom-and-pop business that knows the community can provide.”
One way he will make that happen is by using available technology to make things easy for his customers.
“We’re not going to have a traditional cash register; we’ll have portable PDAs, so we can ring people up anywhere in the store,” he says. “We can bring your order out to you in the parking lot if, for instance, you have kids in the car.” A drive-through window is not feasible at this time due to the configuration of the parking lot.
People will be able to do refills online. “We have an app for refilling prescriptions. Just scan the bar code on your bottle, and it will upload to my system. You can also get text and email alerts to see when your prescription is ready.
“We have unique packaging that will help people take their medicine at certain times of the day, every day,” says Draper. “Then, three days before they run out, I will call them and check on their supply, and send a delivery to them. Our motto is ‘More service, Less stress.’“
Draper plans to employ 4-5 staff to start off, and will be asking for applications “probably mid-to-late March. We’ll be able to take applications online, and people can upload resumes to our website at coarsegoldrx.com.” The website is not online yet, but will be by the time he’s ready to hire, and encourages prospective applicants to check back mid-March.
The plan is to be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. But, he says, if you’re running a little late, just call the store and he’ll wait. That’s the kind of flexibility he wants to offer to the community.
Draper says Sundays are family days, and family will always come first. His wife Monique is a Licenced Vocational Nurse who is “raising the future leaders of tomorrow. We have four kids, ages 16, 8, 7 and 5. She has her hands full and she does an amazing job!”
You can follow the progress of Coarsegold Pharmacy Wellness & Compounding on Facebook.