September 26, 2020

News, products, marketing and merchandising tips for the
front end of community pharmacies

* Gabe's Tips: *

Candy conundrum

No Peeps! Say it ain't so! Just Born, manufacturer of Peeps, marshmallow shaped ghosts and pumpkins along with Mike&Ikes and Hot Tamales, has suspended production of these sweets for Halloween and Christmas of 2020! Other companies who are anticipating a lower demand for Halloween candy are reporting lower production of holiday-specific wrapped candy. Have a backup plan just in case there is some difficulty in inventorying candy. Feature the candy you have on hand and anything you can reorder as holiday candy by using wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and signage.

Be the voice of hope

If you have a marque sign or a digital sign, I'm sure you have posted things like local sports scores, church dinners, congratulations to the local graduating class, thanks for your fellow front-line health providers. But have you tried to make someone smile or reassure them that "this, too, will pass?" Try a message like "You are rocking that Mask!" or "Reminder, the mask goes below your eyes😊". If you think of an inspirational message, put it on your sign. And if you do not have a marquee or digital sign, do what Jack Dunn did at Jasper Drug located in Jasper, GA — put up a banner.

Allergy relief

As the cold and moist air starts to move in, people start spending more time indoors, and mold allergy becomes a threat. Boost the inventory and promote your store brand antihistamines: don't cut out the major brand names. Do merchandise and use signs to promote your preferred generic brand. A little 60-second video on your business Facebook page, letting people know about your allergy relief choices, will go a long way. Post that video today, before you forget.

Fixated on fixtures

I received this message on a recent Zoom meeting: "Gabe, I'm concerned about a new location that I will be moving my store to. I'm thinking of not reusing my fixtures. I'm thinking of buying some beautifully crafted fixtures, it will blow my budget, but the fixtures are classy; what do you think?"

In 45 years, I have never heard of anyone choosing a pharmacy because they had beautiful fixtures. Save your money and use it to enhance your lighting, build a second consulting or vaccine room, and purchase the largest exterior sign you can afford, where the words Drug Store or Pharmacy are the easiest words to read. For tips on how to build a consulting or vaccine room, make sure to join me at this year's NCPA Virtual Convention and my CE session titled How, as a team, can we have our customers feel safe and know we are here for them?

The value of team meetings

If you aren't doing this already, consider having brief daily or weekly team huddles or staff meeting to review priorities, policies and pearls. This can be a time for staff to share ideas or learn something new. Here's an idea: have your team watch my CE session at the NCPA Virtual Convention then meet together the following morning to discuss. You can register for Convention here.

October ordering

The month of October is when merchandisers choose to reset the section for diabetes management while also increasing the inventory on thermometers. Thermometers are starting to make their way back into the supply chain; check daily with your wholesale for daily inventory. In your Diabetes management section, make sure to cross merchandise both single and three packs of socks for those with diabetes. Look to increase color choices; nearly anything other than black or white socks will catch one's eyes.

P.S. For whatever reason, brown is a slow mover.

Front End Resources for NCPA Members

Being a member of NCPA means you have access to a treasure trove of helpful hints, tips, and resources to make your front end more profitable! Download One-Pager Tips on a variety of topics. Gabe typically posts a tip once or twice a day on his Twitter account — if you're on Twitter, give him a follow at @NCPAGabe. You can also find tips in Gabe's monthly column in America's Pharmacist. The Overhaul of Fame galleries contain hundreds of photos to inspire you, from effective signs to successful end-caps and everything in between. Finally, you and your staff can access several staff training videos that will help you take an objective view of your store, both inside and out!

This wealth of knowledge is due to the fantastic photos, ideas, and suggestions we receive every day from NCPA members like you. Drop him a line at with your questions, photos, best advice, and recommendations. What's selling well in your store? Let us know.

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