The Pharmacy: The Heart of London Drugs

From the day it opened its doors, London Drugs did business differently. In post-war British Columbia, the pharmacy profession was one of tradition. There were ways that a pharmacy did business: drugs would be dispensed during regular office hours and there was an agreed-upon dispensing fee among pharmacists.

London Drugs did not buy into the attitude of "tradition for tradition's sake."  First on the agenda: drugstore hours. People got sick on the weekends, people got sick in the evenings, it only made sense that a drugstore would have medicine available weekends and evenings.

In 1945, the first London Drugs store opened for extended evening hours and weekends, including Sundays. It was a gamble: what if customers boycotted the store because it was open on Sunday? There was no need to worry. The community in central Vancouver appreciated the extended hours and the little drugstore thrived.

In the 1960s and 1970s, London Drugs began to expand into new municipalities, some of which were not as accommodating. In cities like Victoria and North Vancouver, the non-medicinal aisles were roped off to Sunday shoppers. The local governments felt that shopping for health care items was acceptable, but anything else was strictly forbidden. In Red Deer, London Drugs fought a decade-long battle to provide extended hours for their customers. In each market, no matter the initial resistance, London Drugs won the battle to offer this important service.

The fight for extended shopping hours was not the only battle.  In the 1950s, all pharmacists charged the same dispensing fees. The customer was faced with no choice: no matter where they went, their prescriptions cost the same. London Drugs decided to break with tradition and offer discounts on dispensing fees. For the first time, Vancouver residents had a choice to pay less for their prescriptions.

The business exploded, and not just in the geographic area of the London Drugs store. People from around the province filled their prescriptions long distance. Finally there was an affordable alternative.



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