As the Target at Tillicum Centre closes its doors for good this week, the owners of its short-lived pharmacy within the Tillicum store are celebrating their one-month anniversary at a new location.
Husband and wife pharmacist team Chandra and Jaya Erant previously owned and operated Target’s Tillicum pharmacy, which shuttered its doors permanently in a Canada-wide closure Monday.
On March 5, the Erants opened JC Pharmacy at 3214 Douglas St., their second attempt at owning a pharmacy. But this time, they’re going independent.
“We’re very blessed to be able to open our own space, because of the loyal clientele we had at Target,” Chandra said.
Both were research scientists in the pharmaceutical industry before they left Ontario for Saanich. Chandra began working at the Zellers’ pharmacy seven years ago and was the manager when it closed.
He was acknowledged by Target for his customer service, as his pharmacy had the highest sales of any Target pharmacy in Western Canada despite the Tillicum store’s struggles. Target gave his store an award for its customer service and Chandra was told just a week before the Jan. 15 announcement that the rumours of a Target closure were untrue.
“I had known the (Zellers’) client base for so many years, making so many great relationships,” Chandra said. “After they came back from the (nine month wait between) Zellers’ closure until Target opened, I couldn’t digest telling them we were closing a second time.”
Chandra applauded Target’s pharmacy franchise model, which demanded only that the business owners secured a $150,000 business line of credit with a fully stocked inventory of about $100,000. It saved him from losing any upfront franchise fees, and as a result he came out relatively unscathed. But he lamented over seeing so many Target workers lose their jobs.
Some of those same workers have been giving out Chandra’s new address and location to wayward clients who were showing up at Target only to find the pharmacy already shut.
Chandra had a chance to sell the business, but when more than 1,500 of the Target pharmacy clients put their name and number on a loyalty list, Chandra and Jaya had the confidence to open their own pharmacy.
“We called every number, it was a lot of work,” Chandra said. “I was told by local experts I couldn’t open my own pharmacy in less than 12 weeks, maybe 10, but we did it in four weeks thanks to some amazing help. Some tradesman dropped their other jobs to help us get set up and we are indebted to them.”
The College of Pharmacists of B.C. escalated the process of approvals too, he said.
“It’s a simple store space designed to serve prescriptions and we can add furniture as we go, but we already have the over-the-counter basics, with more coming.”
Target is pulling the plug on all 133 locations across Canada. Tillicum Centre is owned and operated by national corporation RioCan, which is losing 26 Target stores across the country, representing 1.9 per cent of RioCan’s annual rent revenue.