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Service Nurtures Loyalty for Local Merchants

By Susan McNeal Velasquez.
By Susan McNeal Velasquez.

George Weiss wrote a letter to the editor last week that shared pertinent research and also let us know that CVS has as their motto: “Lead with Love.” Thanks George. Your letter solidified my strong opposition to having CVS move into Laguna Drugs’ space.

Why? Am I against leadership strategies? Have I turned my back on love? Not at all.

It’s that Bushard’s Pharmacy already owns that motto by actively living it through their 70 years service to this community. Sheila Bushard Jamison’s father, Joe, first opened the pharmacy in Laguna in 1946, with her Uncle Earl, on Coast Highway, across from the Hotel Laguna.

They moved to the current location on Forest Avenue in the late 1950’s. At that time the area was all service stores – hardware, appliances and even a Safeway – where locals came to get their basic necessities. This pharmacy was and still is a stabilizer for our community.

I realize that some of you might not know just how unique and special it is to still have an independent pharmacy that takes pride in being able to go the extra mile to meet the needs of their customers. Sheila had to work her way up through the ranks to qualify for the privilege of owning and operating the family business. Her daughter, Marisa, after graduating from Loyola Marymount with a business management degree, is the current manager. Joe Bushard kept his employees for many years and the tradition of employees as family is still alive and well.

CVS is a large corporation with 9,600 stores in the U.S. Big business requires clearly defined, inflexible rules and regulations.

How does that affect you? Would you rather be a customer number or be greeted by your name? Would you rather only have access to everyday products or be treated to necessities plus niceties such as lotions, perfumes, cosmetics and solutions handpicked for the special needs of this community?

In a quandary about which product does what and want to take advantage, free of charge, of the years of experience that Beth brings in makeup techniques and the help of all the other warm and knowledgeable women in finding just the right product that will meet your current needs? How about seasoned pharmacists who know you and can save the day by giving you a few extra pills to get you through the weekend because your doctor forgot to okay your maintenance prescription or you dropped your last pill down the drain by mistake? And did you know that Bushard’s delivers six days a week?

I admit that I absolutely love being treated as special. It is a true luxury to have strong connections that develop because taking the time to be personal is truly professional. I trust their leadership based on my on-going personal experience. I feel comfortable saying, “I have a problem and I need help!” because I have been the recipient of the help Bushard’s generously and consistently provides.

It is no small thing to have a network of personal connections that provide loving, caring, leadership through service. Individual personal service is being systematically sacrificed on the altar of more, bigger, quicker and faster.

Remember why you chose Laguna Beach as your home? Even if you haven’t gotten to the part where you can slow down, calm down and involve yourself in this truly remarkable community, if you are lucky, that day will come and hopefully Bushard’s, Sunset Drugs and the other small, excellently run businesses will still be here, ready to welcome you with open arms.

 

Susan is a local since 1986. Learn more at: susanvelasquez.com

 

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