Taking Care of the Patient, Being Proactive with Legislation Can Lead to Opportunity

Bunch Pharmacy has been in business for 24 years in the rural area of Alabama.

Buddy Bunch, RPH, PIC, spoke with Pharmacy Times about his pharmacy, Bunch Pharmacy, and what it means to be a nominee for Health Mart Pharmacy of the Year.

Bunch: When I was about 15 years old, I started working at a drugstore dipping ice cream, and I worked up in the pharmacy some and fell in love with doing that. And I decided that's what I wanted to do, so I went to pharmacy school, came out, went to work for a company called Harco Drugs. Harco was an independent chain in Alabama. Then, those folks and Big B were the 2 major chains in Alabama. So Harco—I opened a store in Guntersville for Harco in 1980, and I ran it until ‘97. Rite Aid bought Harco out, and then I moved up the street and opened my own store. I decided, if I was ever going to do it, that was the time to do it. We've been there now 24 years.

Bunch: Well, I think it's all about the customer. We emphasize that. When I left Harco—well really Rite Aid, the RX was through Rite Aid—we were doing about 270 prescriptions a day, which was pretty, pretty good store in those days. And it's hard to believe it, when I left there and I opened my store, within 3 months, they were doing 10 prescriptions a day. Everybody came with me. They closed the store in less than a year. The customers, the patients were so loyal that everyone, they all came. It’s just looking after them, taking care of the customer, and they'll take care of you. We’re part of the community. I’m from Guntersville; it's my home. I treat those folks like family, they treat me like family.

Bunch; It's a great honor. There's so many out there that's deserving or more deserving than we are, but we just try to do things the right way. But it is an honor. I met so many people at the meeting. This year, we've given out the ‘Vote Bunch Pharmacy’ buttons, and you hand one to a person and then it ends up being a 10, 15 minute conversation—where they're from, get to know them. It's been great. I’ve made a lot of good friends but not competitors in this thing. The other two [competitors] have become fast friends; we hit it off really, really well.

Bunch: It’d be great, be great. I told him today—we actually told each other—after the speeches were over with and we're getting de-mic’d, we basically said any 3 of us won, all the others will be happy. You know, I guess we liked each other real well. But it'd be great. Now, I won't lie, I'd like to win. But I think the other 2 were great, great pharmacies and great pharmacists too.

Bunch: Well, I think you do 2 things. First off, you always take care of the patient, because like I say, you take care of them, they'll take care of you. The second thing is, we got to be very proactive in the legislation. I've done that over the years, as far as being very active in our Pharm Association serving as president, being on Alabama State Board of Pharmacy serving as president, going to Montgomery lobbying for bills, Washington lobbying for bills, just trying to have good relationships with the legislators—letting them know what pharmacy needs, as far as pharmacy itself, but also their constituents. If we don't do the things that we need to do in independent pharmacy, their constituents will be hurt. So, it's just a matter of you have to relate to the legislators what's going on in your profession. They don't know. You have to bring in terminology that they understand. That's 1 problem, I think, is they don't understand what we go through. It's just a matter of continuing to do it, and not giving up, and keep tucking away.