Pharmaca tweaks branding, plans expansion spurt

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Earlier this month, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy unveiled its latest store design here, marking the company’s 23rd location and heralding more new-store growth to come. Pharmaca is targeting three new store openings in 2011, Mark Panzer, Pharmaca president and CEO, told Drug Store News.

And Pharmaca will be looking to grow by three to six new stores each year through 2015, Panzer said — a pace that would put them at approximately 44 locations in that time frame. “It’s all predicated on operating results and investment,” Panzer said.

Early on, that new store growth will help augment the company’s presence in the five Western states it serves, including California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. But it won’t be too long before Pharmaca begins targeting new market expansion, including the possibility of opening an East Coast operation. “We will be expanding outside of the states in which we currently operate in the future,” Panzer said. “People across the United States are looking at health care as being more preventive than an acute need, so any market is ripe,” he said.

“[The new Menlo Park location] is going to be a little bit different,” Panzer said, noting that prior to becoming a Pharmaca pharmacy, Pharmaca’s new corner location housed an art gallery. And the new store features several new branding elements, Panzer said, such as moving away from a script logo and toward more traditional block lettering. The new store also features expanded categories, such as “rest and relaxation,” health monitoring and beverages, which incorporates the fast-growing probiotic niche. “And we’ve improved pharmacy workflow,” Panzer added.

“[The neighborhood] has the right demographics and psychographics for our customer base. It matches up well with what we’re looking for,” he said. Pharmaca’s pharmacy concept — one that populates its sales floor with licensed naturopathic doctors or other holistic healthcare practitioners as part of a more natural leaning toward health care — caters more to customers with advanced college degrees and annual household incomes exceeding $100,000.

Pharmaca also recently revamped its e-commerce site, Panzer said. Representing a burgeoning revenue stream headed into 2011, the site already offers more than 4,500 products, ranging from vitamins, supplements and herbs to personal care items, eco-home products and beauty essentials in hard-to-find brands. “We’ve got product that is high-value, low-cube and easy to ship that should be able to compete with the [specialty vitamin chains] on e-commerce,” Panzer said. “We’ve got a very robust site now. It’s not just geared toward product [but also] content, meaning education for the consumer on their disease states and healthcare management."

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