Avonmore Pharmacy injects new life into village

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

The hours at Avonmore Pharmacy are displayed on the door. The proprietor says he's also looking to be open nights a couple times a week. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

The hours at Avonmore Pharmacy are displayed on the door. The proprietor says he’s also looking to be open nights a couple times a week. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

AVONMORE — The arrival of Avonmore Pharmacy has injected new life into this village’s former Scotiabank building.

The business began operating Jan. 9 at 3287 County Rd. 15, on Avonmore’s main drag. Affiliated with the rapidly growing independent pharmacy network ‘Remedy’sRx,’ the new Avonmore Pharmacy is owned by a group of four pharmacists— with Ahmed Sharabas and Moustafa Ali being principals in Eastern Ontario. The pair individually operate respective locations in Lanark and Avonmore.

“We’ve been meeting the needs of patients here,” Ali confirmed for Nation Valley News, adding the group plans an official ribbon-cutting event during the third week of February.

“We’ve had lots of customers so far,” Ali reported from inside the renovated bank building now featuring a bright and airy layout with open retail space and well-stocked shelving separated by a long pharmacy counter also laden with goods and over-the-counter medications.

Ali, who commutes to the store daily from his home in Orleans, said the partners focus on small towns when setting up new pharmacies, and Avonmore fit with that strategy. The new pharmacy also happens to be located just down the road from a local doctor’s practice at North Stormont Place. Locals seem “happy” with the combination, he pointed out.

And if the customer can’t find what they’re looking for at Avonmore Pharmacy, they can order and have it the next day, the proprietor said, adding the shop also offers a delivery service. As a pharmacist, Ali also looks forward to offering flu shots — and potentially other vaccines as a result of recent regulatory changes — in the future.

Scotiabank closed the long-time bank site in April 2014, amalgamating services with its Casselman branch at the time. (In an attempt to mollify the community, the bank also left an ATM in the former egg-grading station behind Barkley’s Store.)

But the bank building stood empty until its purchase by the pharmacy owners last year. Renovations took a few months.

“They couldn’t be friendlier, and I’m sure they’re very dedicated,” said longtime Avonmore resident and village historian Murray Barkley.

It was Barkley who hit upon the idea of bringing a pharmacy to town as a replacement for the bank. Barkley said he informally surveyed locals about the idea while he was still running Barkley’s Store (since sold). “Absolutely everyone said that if there was a pharmacy here, they would patronize it,” he exclaimed, also pointing out that Avonmore is a closer drive for 10,000 to 20,000 potential pharmacy users, when compared to the distance to other area pharmacies.

Barkley explained he had heard good things about Sharabas’s Lanark operation when he bumped into former Avonmore resident John McIntyre, now living in Avonmore, a couple of years ago.

An informal committee was eventually struck — including local dairy farmers Jim and Nancy Wert — which approached Sharabas about having his partnership group look at Avonmore — with success, as it turns out.

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News


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