When it opened 41 years ago in Flowery Branch, Citizens Pharmacy didn’t have quite the level of competition it does now.
The landscape sure has changed, with abundant consumer choices. All that Samir Shah, the pharmacy manager/owner, has to do is look across nearby Interstate 985, where major retailers have sprung up over the years.
“It’s impressive that (former owner) Sammy (Brown’s) personable nature and customer service kept him thriving even though he has every major competitor within a quarter to half-mile distance from his store,” Shah said.
Shah, who, along with two partners, took over the business one year ago, hopes to keep the momentum going with a grand reopening set for Friday.
He has remodeled the store at 5325 Atlanta Highway, putting down new flooring, revamping the gift department, changing out countertops and replacing the store’s sign outside, as well the canopy across the front of the store.
Shah also changed the store’s familiar blue color scheme to red and black, matching the colors of his alma mater, the University of Georgia, but also the Atlanta Falcons, who are headquartered in Flowery Branch.
And the business has created a new logo, one that incorporates a slightly altered version of the blossom in Flowery Branch’s logo, to “represent the community,” Shah said.
Brown started Citizens Pharmacy in 1975 at a location south of the current building, which he moved to in 1985.
“When we started in Flowery Branch, there was nothing there,” he said. “I think there was something in the neighborhood of 13 business licenses.”
As for today’s pharmacy environment, “the chain stores really don’t bother a good independent store,” said Brown, now retired. “The biggest threat is the insurance companies and the government regulations.”
Independent stores “that provide good quality customer service, good location and good prices don’t have a problem succeeding,” he said.
For Shah, who grew up in Georgia, the transition from working as a pharmacist for a major chain to owner of a small-town independent pharmacy is like a dream come true.
“Now, I feel like I have purpose in my life … what I went to school for,” he said. “And just naturally, I’ve always been a community-loving person.”
The area where Citizens Pharmacy is located is also going through a bit of a revival, including the conversion of another local landmark, Best Buy, into a 4,000-square-foot convenience store.
Also, Flowery Branch City Council recently approved construction of up to five craftsman-style cottages on Mulberry Street, which runs behind Citizens Pharmacy.
“I love the area, the people,” Shah said. “It just seems to be a nice, growing area.”