One of the most common compliments Will and Courtney Quimby receive about Centralia Pharmacy is that when customers call them, someone picks up the phone.
“That’s what you get from an independent pharmacy that’s so unique in the pharmacy business,” Will Quimby said. “Our customers aren’t going to wait in line for one hour for us to tell them we don’t have that medication in stock.”
The Quimbys started Centralia Pharmacy in May 2017 with their business partner, Jeff Harrell, reinvigorating one of Centralia’s oldest pharmacy locations. As the owners prepare to expand their business in the coming year, like all pharmacies, they face supply chain issues and increased demand that has pushed the capacity of many pharmacies. Despite these challenges, at their core, the Quimbys said they remain committed to the values of creating a pharmacy business that supports both employees and customers.
“It’s not an easy field but serving people is easy,” Courtney Quimby said.
Both Will and Courtney Quimby are pharmacists and come from a family tradition of pharmacy work. Courtney’s grandfather had an independent pharmacy in Mississippi for 90 years and Will’s father owned a pharmacy in his hometown of Aberdeen. The couple ended up in Centralia when Will managed the pharmacy at Safeway in Centralia.
Until five years ago, their South Tower Avenue location, with its trademark steeple, had been continuously operating as a drug store since 1891. The Quimbys said the pharmacy business is a tight-knit community and they already knew there was a lack of independent pharmacies in Lewis County. Ray Dubois, who owned the Medicine Shoppe, which was one of the location’s original monikers, knew Will Quimby’s father. And when the couple was in pharmacy school, they met Warren Hall of Hall’s South Tower Drug Store, the store’s name after it was the Medicine Shoppe. Hall’s closed in 2017.
“We saw a need and an opportunity and we figured, ‘let’s go for it,’” Will Quimby said of reopening the local pharmacy.
Before opening Centralia Pharmacy, both Quimbys worked as pharmacists at national chain stores. They said working for larger companies was a valuable experience, in terms of learning what to do and what they did not want to do. The personal touch of having a relationship with a pharmacist can be missing from the experience at a chain pharmacy, not because the employees don’t care, but because the systems surrounding them don’t support them in going the extra mile for customers, Will Quimby noted.
“It helped us understand pharmacies could be better, treat their customers better, treat their employees better,” Will Quimby said. “When you’re providing health care locally, from within the community, it’s going to be better.”
“You’re more invested,” Courtney Quimby added.
Centralia Pharmacy offers everything one would expect from a full-service pharmacy, including options such as compliance packets (also called bubble packets), immunizations (including for travel) and delivery and mail order options. Getting to know their customers is important at Centralia Pharmacy. Employees make a point of getting to know not just their names, but small details such as family members, pets and even the make and model of their cars, so they can be ready with their order when they get to the drive-thru window.
“We work efficiently so we have more time to be with the customers and establish relationships with them,” Courtney Quimby said.
Getting to know their customers is also about knowing what health care solutions are right for them. One sign on the wall of Centralia Pharmacy states, “We do not work for the insurance company. We work for you.”
Courtney Quimby said they advocate for the right prescription for each person’s individual needs. She gave the example that some of their customers are homeless, and knowing that means she would know a prescription such as a powder inhaler would not be a good choice for them because the dry medicine inside could get wet, rendering the inhaler useless.
“I think our customers, when they come here, they sense a difference,” Will Quimby said. “We know them and there’s a sense of community.”
And that community is about to grow.
The Quimbys have broken ground on their next location at the corner of Fourth Street and Market Boulevard in Chehalis and walls began to go up this week. They said they decided to expand to two locations when they noticed they had customers traveling from Chehalis, Onalaska and even farther south to seek them out.
They decided that the need for an independent pharmacy farther south was there and they felt they could fill that need.
“It wasn’t something we sought out, we just wanted to be open to the possibility,” Will Quimby said.
The Chehalis location of Centralia Pharmacy is planned to open in the summer of 2023, though Courtney Quimby said she is hopeful it could open sooner. Conceptual drawings of the new location show the same popular drive-up window as the Centralia location as well as more windows, to make spotting customers when they drive up even easier. The Quimbys have already started hiring extra workers at the Centralia location, some of whom will move to the Chehalis site when it opens.
“That way the customers will see some familiar faces when they go there,” Courtney Quimby said.
Location: 417 S. Tower Ave., Centralia
Online: centraliapharmacy.com or Centralia Pharmacy on Facebook