Pharmacy Market BUZZ

Market News, Products, Services, and Trends

Pharmacy Redesign Q&A | Gabe Trahan, NCPA

Q. What do you see as the most effective type of remodeling?

It’s not what you think; it’s not adding more fixtures or new flooring, it’s removing fixtures. Stores are designed to hold fixtures; fixtures were designed to hold merchandise. Community pharmacies do have a limit of what categories they can be successful with. Remove some fixtures, create space for your customers, and enhance the customers shopping experience. Be the first to change the old model of store design, make room for your customers, not fixtures.

Q. Customers hate change! Should we risk remodeling and possibly losing customers?

Customers do get a bit angry when you move things around! Yes, some customers hate change but all customers appreciate improvements. When speaking of changes replace the word change with improving. An important note, if customers choose to leave a store because a fixture has been moved or a wall has been painted, then it is time to take a good look at the pharmacy’s team.

Q. Where should I start first, remodel the interior or do something with the exterior?

That is like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg. If you improve the interior without touching the exterior, no potential customers will ever know. Save money and time to do both! Rejuvenating the exterior of the building will attract new customers, and improving the interior will make your existing customers happy and appreciative.

Q. What size fixtures do you recommend for the walls and gondolas?

The better question would be – What is a good width for my aisles? Stores built for fixtures typically have aisles 4 ft. down to 3 ft. wide, aisles need to be 5 ft. wide. My size

recommendation for gondolas should be between 54" to 60" tall and no more than 30" wide. While wall fixtures can be anywhere between 72" to 84" tall, with a base depth of 15" to 18".

Q. What goals should I set for a remodel?

To make your pharmacy look alive and successful! You wouldn’t expect a customer to put their life savings in a bank whose exterior and interior was in need of repair; sign burned out, duct tape of the flooring, and soiled ceiling tiles begging to be replaced. Then, you wouldn’t expect a customer to put their health in a pharmacy that doesn’t look healthy either.

Q. Can you suggest a few affordable remodeling ideas?

• Steam power-wash the sidewalk.

• Replace or paint soiled ceiling tiles.

• Clean light fixtures.

• Replace flickering bulbs.

• Update color scheme.

• Remove all paper signs from the windows and doors.

• Have the floors professionally cleaned.

• Clean the kick plates and top caps of all the fixtures.

• Add a welcome sign to the building.

Q. How important is the style of fixtures to a remodel project?

I have yet to know of a family that the head of the household said “jump in the car kids; we are going to visit those awesome fixtures at the drug store again!” At times we look at fancy or custom fixtures as an “easy button” for remodeling. Customers come to your store because they like you and the customer service you offer. Just stay away from the sterile look of having a combination of white walls, white ceilings, and white shelving. Replace any rusted, scratched and/or dented shelves, stick to a cleaning schedule, keep the product looking straight and clean and you will be just fine, no need for fancy fixtures. Use the extra money for a better sign by the road.

Q. How much space should I leave open from the entrance door to the first fixture? And how much space between RX counter to the nearest fixture?

Entrance from door to the first fixture should be at least 7 ft. - 8 ft. Between the RX counter and nearest fixture, at least 6 ft. However, if you are filling more than 250 prescriptions a day, then I suggest going to 7 ft. - 8 ft.

Q. Is there anything creative I can do with my walls other than painting them?

Adding photos of people of different ethnic and age groups with a pleasant smile is always a nice touch. Examples of photos could include: a parent holding a baby, a family photo of a customer that includes three generations, or a photo of a proud grandparent with their grandchild. Let your customers know that you are a pharmacy that welcomes all age groups. Or follow in Brittany Sanders footsteps, store owner and pharmacist of The Pharmacy at Wellington, and add wonderful photos to the store walls of yourself and staff interacting with customers. Note: I am not recommending you put your family photos on the wall, I am recommending customer and/or customers with staff photos. If photos are not in your plans, adding 6" wide wood strip separating the area between the top of your fixture and the ceiling is another creative idea.

Q. Any suggestion on how to make the pharmacy standout from the rest of the store?

The least expensive way to highlight your pharmacy is by painting it a complementary color with related hues. Tie together the pharmacy and front-end by using the same color for the trim. My favorite way to bring attention to a pharmacy area is to have a slightly curved valance added to the ceiling face of the pharmacy with the words “Welcome to Our Pharmacy” painted on the front, this gives it a nice added touch.

Gabe Trahan Headshot 2017.jpg

Gabe Trahan, Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing, NCPA

In his role as NCPA’s Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing, Gabe Trahan has worked with hundreds of community pharmacies of all sizes to help them improve their images and ultimately boost front-end profits. From conducting in-store and virtual consultations to presenting at educational workshops and writing extensively on front-end retailing, Gabe has established himself as one of the leading experts in effective and innovative front-end design and merchandising. Gabe is a much sought-after speaker on merchandising and has presented at numerous workshops and seminars for NCPA and other pharmacy organizations and wholesalers. He has conducted hundreds of in-store consultations for community pharmacies for 27 years, as far away as Sitka, Alaska and Puerto Rico and many cities and towns in between, helping the store owners and staff to redesign floor plans, solve inventory issues, and improve merchandising and marketing with original techniques.

National Community Pharmacists Association, founded in 1898, is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing 22,000 pharmacies that employ 250,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America’s most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit

Today's Posts

This post is related to:

Design, Fixtures, Layout, Engineering