A good year at the drive-through

Nader Ibrahim at the Gold Creek Discount Drug Store.

Concern for mums with sick children prompted the opening of the ACT’s first ever drive-through pharmacy – and a year later, it’s celebrating its success with the local community

Gold Creek Discount Drug Stores partner Nader Ibrahim says that the pharmacy, in the north Canberra suburb of Nicholls, attracted a lot of mother’s groups and young families.

While Nicholls is suburban, the Gold Creek Village area is also frequented to tourists, with attractions like English-style pubs and galleries nearby, as well as the National Dinosaur Museum and Reptile Zoo.

“So it’s touristy, but it’s also suburban – and the one thing that we noticed we were already really good at was convenience,” Mr Ibrahim tells the AJP.

“When they’d come in for a prescription for the little one, sometimes the little one would be in the car out the front, and Mum would be waiting for a prescription, going in and out to check the little one. You wouldn’t go into a shopping centre for that.

“So we tried to take what we’re good at to the next level, and try to service our customer base.”

The decision involved rebranding the original pharmacy to Discount Drug Stores, and moving it a few stores away.

“We were fortunate enough to find a site not too far from where we were, and that allowed us to introduce something a little bit different than anywhere else in Canberra.”

Mr Ibrahim says that the response to the drive-through pharmacy was immediate and positive – and not all from the expected quarters.

“It’s one of those things that until you try it, you don’t know the real value in it. If a mum drove in with a sick baby on a cold day and she didn’t want to take him out into the cold, now she’s realised, ‘wow, I can see why they’ve done that’.

“We’ve also got positive feedback from unexpected people like tradies and labourers – they’re on the run, so they just want to zip in and zip out.

“It’s good to see it’s attractive to that client base as well.”

Mr Ibrahim says that wheelchair users also appreciate the service as it supports independence “because they can drive round, get to the places they need to, and now they can do it more efficiently and confidently.”

The drive-through service offers full service, from scripts to OTCs, as well as some counselling: Mr Ibrahim explains that if customers want a health concern to be looked at they may need to come into the store, but that otherwise, the pharmacists still offer advice at the drive-through window.

Customers are understanding that this might take a little longer than other drive-throughs they have been to, he says.

“We’ve seen a 34% increase in purchases from our baby range via the drive-thru, such as baby formulas and medication.”

On Saturday, June 1, the pharmacy will be celebrating its first birthday as a drive-through and Discount Drug Stores, with a sausage sizzle, kids face painting, exclusive in-store promotions and raffle prizes.

“We just want to celebrate with our community and say thank you, because without their support we couldn’t bring this to Canberra,” Mr Ibrahim says.

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