A business started by a St. Thomas University alumna received a start-up award at the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards on Oct. 18.
Lindsay Bowman, who graduated from STU in 2004, created Bowman’s Drugstore with her husband Paul Bowman in January 2017. Paul works as the pharmacist, while Lindsay manages the backend of the business.
Bowman’s Drugstore was selected out of three nominees for the Start-Up award, an award given to community-oriented businesses with a plan for future growth. Mrs. Bowman said the community was a focus for their business since the beginning.
“My husband and I, we’re really passionate about the Fredericton community,” said Bowman. “We really want to encourage active living in the community. Any children’s programs around active living and right up to university and adult [recreational] programs – we like to support those as much as we can.”
The Bowman’s also work with various groups in the community, such as LGBTQ and seniors’ groups, to make sure they have the health information and advocates they need. They also have a newcomer from Syria who provides service in Arabic.
Bowman said their community-oriented approach to business was key in finding their place in a city with multiple major pharmacies, like Shoppers Drug Mart and Lawtons Drugs.
“It was one the hardest thing we’ve ever done,” said Bowman. “My husband is a pharmacist and he worked for 13 years for [the] Walmart pharmacy. My background is as a corporate lawyer … We really thought he knew how to run a pharmacy and I knew how to start a business, but until you do it you have no appreciation for how challenging it is going to be.”
Bowman said she discovered building relationships are important when running a business.
“If people know you, they’ll rally for you, they’ll champion you. But we weren’t from Fredericton, I hadn’t lived here since I went to STU. So we really had to get out in the community and meet people.”
The business also built relationships by using social media.
“We relied on social media a lot more than I anticipated for pharmacy,” said Bowman. “We really had to sort of change what pharmacy was because it’s not particularly sexy. Most people don’t think of their pharmacy that often. It’s about a convenience. There’s a lot of things a pharmacist can do now that most people may not be aware of. We’re really telling that story.”
Bowman said they have plenty of goals for the future of their business, including opening new locations in the future. Their store now is located on Regent Street.
“I think the future of pharmacy is going to look a lot different because as pharmacist’s scope of practice increases and as people need more primary healthcare and have less time with their doctors … their relationship with their pharmacists becomes more important.”
“We still have a long way to go, but we feel like we have our feet under us now and we’re feeling a little bit better about being in business.”