| Apr 17, 2008

Feature Article - April 17, 2008

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Feature Article -April 17, 2008 Verona Drugmart:A fortuitous Circumstance By Jeff GreenSome things are meant to happen.

In 2001 Hany Girgis, a pharmacist by training and a businessman by inclination, emigrated to Canada from Cairo, Egypt.

“I wanted to move to a more advanced country,” he recalls, “and I chose to move to Canada.”

Hany Girgis moved to Kingston and it took him a few years to get settled, learn English, and receive his pharmacist certification.

“I was doing odd jobs, trying to make a living, and it took a while to find time for the courses I needed to complete,” he said.

When he did get his license early in 2005, Hany worked as a supply pharmacist in Kingston and quickly realized that if he was going to own his own pharmacy, he would likely have to look to a rural community because the city was tied up with large chain pharmacies.

In the summer of 2005 he opened an independent pharmacy in Seeley’s Bay.

Meanwhile back in Verona, a pharmacy that had been open for many years had long since closed down and was becoming a distant memory, but Doctor Dempsey from the Verona Medical Centre knew there was a strong desire in the community to bring one back, so she gave Hany Girgis a call and asked him if he might be interested in opening a second pharmacy.

He agreed to come to a meeting, and it’s fair to say that the Verona Pharmacy was born at that meeting.

On May 9, Hany met with Bev Brooks, Ken Harper, Jim Landsdell, John MacDougall, Aziz Murji, Inie Platenius, Chad Van Camp and Andrew Asselstine for lunch at Rivendell golf club.

“I felt like I was more than welcome at that meeting,” Hany remembers, “people talked freely and honestly with me.”

To this day, he has kept a sheet of paper he had at that meeting, where he marked down some of the products that people at the meeting told him would be popular in Verona.

They include cosmetics, cough and cold medicine, grooming materials and all kind of items a full service pharmacy should carry.

“I promised the people at that meeting that I would open a store that people would be proud of.”

Less than 11 months after that meeting at Rivendell, the Verona Drug Mart, located beside the Local Family Farms Store, opened to the public.

“We had a soft opening on April 3, and I thought the business would start slowly and grow. It surprised me how many people came right over and transferred their prescriptions and supported me. It has been very busy already.”

The Verona Drug Mart will have its grand opening on Saturday, and true to his word Hany Girgis will begin giving back to the community right away. Among other festivities and a ribbon cutting, he will be hosting a fundraising BBQ with all proceeds going to the medical recruitment campaign.

There are two staff members already working at the pharmacy, and there will be a relief pharmacist coming in, since Hany will continue to run the pharmacy in Seeley’s Bay as well.

When asked what he does on his time off; he paused for a second, then said, a bit sheepishly, “I’m working most of the time, but I really like to work”.

He also likes Canada. Even though his mother, sister, and brother in-law live in California and have encouraged him to move there, he said he finds Canadians to be “warmer and more relaxed”.

With the addition of pharmacy, Verona continues to progress as a commercial center. Another of the empty storefronts that dotted Main Street a few years ago is alive once again.

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