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Independent pharmacies are constantly accomplishing amazing feats that usually go without recognition. That’s why we love it when organizations like NCPA’s Innovation Center give pharmacies the opportunity to highlight all the wonderful things they’re doing. This year, NCPA awarded three PioneerRx users NCPA Innovation Center Excellence (NICE) Awards for their outstanding work, and we wanted to discover how they earned these honors.
Remember the days when the local pharmacy wasn’t just a place to pick up prescriptions? Soda fountains and drugstores were the places to socialize and shop. The 20th century saw this phenomenon wane, but lately, pharmacies are slowly making a comeback and re-establishing themselves as economic staples in their communities. AXIS Pharmacy Northwest, for example, is changing how the citizens of Mountlake Terrace, WA, view pharmacy by offering exciting products and promotional events at the store.
About 14 miles north of Seattle, AXIS Pharmacy Northwest operates as a full-service retail pharmacy along with long-term care and compounding facilities, too. The store also maintains a wellness boutique that sells everything from vaccinations to supplements to local products. All of these embody the AXIS motto: “Building a balanced life from the inside out.”
AXIS also plans events to bring new and returning customers to the store. Marissa Brady, Marketing and Boutique Manager, constantly looks for new, appealing ways to draw more members of the community to the store. Past events include educational essential oil classes, kombucha-making workshops, and Pedal Smoothies, the attraction that earned AXIS Pharmacy Northwest the 2018 NICE Award for Best Marketing/Promotion.
Pedal Smoothies is a Seattle-based company that combines “health, happiness, and bicycle ingenuity,” according to their website. Guests choose which flavor smoothie they want, and those ingredients go into a blender attached to a stationary bicycle. Participants pedal for 20-30 seconds to power their blender, and they are rewarded with a sweet treat. Pedal Smoothies first began in May 2013 and has now evolved to a catering service sought after by local businesses to bring a fun, interactive activity to their events.
During the summer of 2017, Marissa hosted Pedal Smoothies at AXIS to catch the attention of local patrons and fellow businesses. “I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to our customers and community for supporting our business and treat them with something fun and different,” she explains. “Who doesn’t want a free smoothie on a hot summer day?!”
Pedal Smoothies received a very positive response from the Mountlake Terrace population. Attendees were surprised that such a unique event was hosted by a pharmacy, and many brought their children so they could have a fun activity to participate in. One of the purposes of the Pedal Smoothies outreach is to educate locals about AXIS. “We have a beautiful, wellness-oriented boutique retail store, so many times customers will stop in just to look around at all the products,” Marissa observes. “But most people need a pharmacy at some point, so the goal is always that they will remember us next time they need a prescription filled.”
Just because the weather is no longer warm enough for smoothies doesn’t mean AXIS will stop offering exciting opportunities to the public. The upcoming holidays provide enough inspiration for Marissa as she brainstorms future ideas. “I am planning a gingerbread-making event next month!” she says excitedly. “2019 will be a year full of fun events, as well.” For pharmacies that are considering launching their own promotional project, Marissa says, “I would take a look at the season or time of year, then what type of demographic they are trying to attract — what they would like, and what is unique enough to catch people’s eye.” Because independent pharmacies are often deeply-rooted within their communities, they have the potential to grow their business with methods the big box stores would not even be able to consider. Events like Pedal Smoothies are a chance for pharmacies to build relationships and leave lasting impressions that encourage patrons to return again and again.