Drugs. Vaccines. Unbeatable customer service. Burgers and ice cream.
While many local businesses have been bruised due to the COVID-19 pandemic, three local pharmacies – Crestwood Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, Green Valley Drug and Crestline Pharmacy – have not wavered in their service and commitment to their communities. Not only do they deeply care for those they serve, but they are contributing to vital public health conversations in America at a neighborly level.
Crestwood Pharmacy and Soda Fountain
Dr. Taylor Trammell is the co-owner and lead pharmacist at Crestwood Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, an independently owned pharmacy and old fashioned soda fountain in Crestwood. He got his start working at CVS after finishing school at Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy, and opened Crestwood’s doors in 2017.
“Large pharmacies are notorious for not giving you enough help and not having enough staff working. Our goal is to have enough people here to serve all of our customers,” Trammell explained. “We try to know our customers and their families. I told some new employees to treat all of our customers like their own grandma. Like they are our own family.”
While Crestwood doesn’t offer the COVID-19 vaccine, they have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions in other ways.
“Not much has changed since COVID-19 for us. We have always offered free delivery, but now we offer to-go and curbside services as well,” Trammell added. “We never did shots, we never did tests. We’re such a small team so we didn’t want to expose ourselves to COVID-19. If we were out, we would hurt. We just kept chugging along to take care of our current patients.”
Trammell said the most rewarding part of owning Crestwood Pharmacy is getting to know the people. From serving homemade ice cream and locally brewed kombucha to caring for families throughout the hospice process, helping people is embedded in Crestwood’s mission.
A greeting on the front door to Crestwood reads, “In centuries past, townspeople recognized a show globe as the landmark for healing. It’s glow welcomes all to this place of medicine, the local pharmacy.”
“I’m just trying to make pharmacy cool again,” Trammell said with a smile.
Green Valley Drugs
As one of the first establishments in the area, Green Valley Drugs has been a staple in Hoover for decades. Dr. William Box, owner and lead pharmacist, gradually took over the business after his father retired. Both William and his father graduated from Samford University, previously known as Howard College.
“My father opened Green Valley Drugs in December of 1961. When it opened, it was the only thing out here. Hoover really grew up around Green Valley,” Box explained. “The majority of our patients live within about three miles of here which is pretty common for local drugstores. Many of our customers have been coming here since the ‘60s.”
In addition to over-the-counter services, Green Valley Drugs has a full soda fountain and restaurant. While COVID-19 required Box to shift to lunch only and accommodate seating for social distancing, he is hopeful the full soda fountain services will return soon.
Despite their size, Green Valley Drugs was one of the first COVID-19 vaccine providers in the area.
“Early on we got with the state of Alabama to become a vaccine provider, but our problem was getting enough vaccines, of course,” Box said. “But I would say giving the COVID-19 vaccine has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done since I left pharmacy school in 1983.”
Box and his wife, Deborah Box, work at the pharmacy together. He says the ideal pharmacist is someone who is patient and who really cares about the people he or she serves.
Box explained that “continuing to serve our patients is something we can actually do to help people, to keep them out of the hospital and potentially save their lives. We want to know their names and treat them like our own family.”
While many competitors exist in the nearby area, Green Valley Drugs serves as a nostalgic time capsule and visual reminder of how much Hoover has grown. Thankfully, Green Valley Drugs and the family that carries its legacy has continued to flourish.
Nestled among the charming storefronts of Crestline Village sits Crestline Pharmacy, an independently owned pharmacy that has been in business since 1950. Owner and pharmacist Dr. Matt Leach took over the business with his wife and high school sweetheart, Amanda Leach, in May of 2020.
“Ever since taking ownership of the pharmacy, it has been a great learning experience. Because I jumped in when I did, it never felt like I was adjusting for COVID-19,” said Leach. “Our patients are great. Several of them have been coming here for 15-plus years – we have a very loyal following.”
Leach said he tries to know as many patients’ names as possible. He believes the customer service and relationships with patients are some of the greatest benefits of local pharmacies.
Crestline Pharmacy has been able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine since March.
“We were giving a lot of vaccines at the beginning – usually around 50-60 per day,” Leach explained. “It slowed down quite a bit in the summertime, but that’s pretty normal. We can now offer booster shots, as well as the flu and pneumonia vaccines. Those are starting to pick up as well.”
In addition to vaccinations and over-the-counter services, Crestline Pharmacy sells a large selection of home items, decor and gifts.
“I grew up wandering the isles of gifts and toys as my parents picked up prescriptions. Now when I go to pick up my own medications or grab a snack, they know my face and my name,” Kate Dyleski, Crestline Pharmacy customer, said.
“A major perk of using a local pharmacy is that my family is able to charge purchases to our account, and pay the bill later. This makes shopping easy and convenient,” Dyleski added. “Crestline Pharmacy is able to cater shopping to the needs of their customers and support other local small businesses by stocking shelves with their products. These perks just can’t be found at larger pharmacy chains.”
Leach said some of the most important traits of a pharmacist are patience, time management, organization, and the ability to juggle a lot at once. He knows a thing or two about time management and organization as a father of four and full-time business owner.
“The past few years have been a blur but I wouldn’t change it a bit,” Leach said with a chuckle. “The place has a lot of history and great people. I really love what I do.”
The next generation of independent pharmacists understands the importance of knowing patients personally. Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy graduate student, Whitney Seals, spoke to her experience:
“One thing that influenced my decision in choosing pharmacy as my future profession is how cared for I feel by my pharmacists back home in Munford, Alabama. My family has always used an independent pharmacy in our area. We have always felt comfortable texting or calling them if we ever had questions about what OTC (over-the-counter) or prescription drugs we were taking. They never hesitate to come out from behind the counter to greet us if we come into the store and need help.”
Seals works in an independent pharmacy while in school. She has observed firsthand how mutually beneficial it is for pharmacists and patients to have an established friendship.
“Working in an independent pharmacy made me aware of how important it is for pharmacists to build up relationships with their community,” Seals added. “Rather than fill the prescription and send them on their way, not only do they listen, but they remember what a customer says so that when they come back in they can continue the conversation and build up a trusted relationship.”