Independent Pharmacy Reimagines Traditional Store Layout

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By Mario Toneguzzi

A Toronto pharmacy and clinic has reimagined and restructured the traditional drug store layout.

The newly-opened Wellth Pharmacy and Clinic, at 85 Church Street, was transformed into a state-of-the-art compounding lab, with private consultation rooms, viewing windows and an open-concept lab that allows clients to watch, through a looking glass, their prescription being prepared.

Ben McKenzie, a co-founder of the concept with Stacey D’Angelo, who is also a pharmacist, says the company name is a merging together of the words health and wellness.

“It’s a good representation of our brand and of what we’re trying to create. Our tagline is where your wealth is measured in health and wellness,” says McKenzie.

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Wellth opened recently in 2,416 square feet of space. Wellth asks how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual. Its goal is to be its patients’ “best self partner” by optimizing their vitality with holistic solutions designed for them. It intends to inspire each client’s unique wellness pursuit through innovative product discovery, easy-to-understand advice and connection to the community.

D’Angelo says Wellth is a traditional pharmacy but it also does specialty compounding with medications made in its in-house state-of-the-art lab.

“That was an important part of the design as we wanted to showcase the compounding lab,” says D’Angelo.

The retail space focus is on health and wellness. The location also has a naturopathic doctor, a holistic nutritionist and a nurse practitioner. There are four consultation rooms in the clinic.

McKenzie says the company is independent and the owners’ goal is to grow to another location. Whether that will be another pharmacy or just a clinic is not certain at this time.

Reuben Barkin, director of operations for BUILD IT By Design which constructed the new pharmacy and clinic, says several years back the building was actually a parking garage that was retro-fitted to condo apartments above with some retail on the ground floor.

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“One of the unique features of the place was because it was a parking garage, the concrete slab itself was really rough concrete with still some staining of oil . . . We needed to grind the entire slab down to the existing re-bar and then pour a new slab,” says Barkin.

“It was integral that the slab be perfect because the floor finish is an extremely, high gloss, white, epoxy finish. The best way I can describe the floor is that it’s almost like a skating rink.”

Because noise transfer was a huge concern, the contractors insulated the entire ceiling with soundproofing. The millwork is also extremely intricate and high end.

('The bentley' condominium building at 55 Lombard Street in Toronto got its start as a parking garage. Photo: juliekinnear.com)

('The bentley' condominium building at 55 Lombard Street in Toronto got its start as a parking garage. Photo: juliekinnear.com)

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“We wanted to ensure that it wasn’t your textbook pharmacy . . . There’s a lot of round curves, solid surfaces, wood details to kind of soften the mood . . . Because they’re a multi-disciplinary clinic focusing on preventative health, they wanted to really create a family atmosphere,” explains Barkin.

“Yes, it’s a pharmacy but it’s done with a much stronger hands-on approach. They wanted people from the community to come in and feel very relaxed . . . They really wanted it to be more of a community sort of health destination than just come in, grab your prescriptions and leave. Everything from the lighting, the colours that were selected . . . is soothing and calm.”

BUILD IT, with its head office in Mississauga, has 70 employees and has been in operation since 2008. The general contractors do about 120-150 projects a year. 

Recognizing Wellth Pharmacy and Clinic as a thought-leader in the industry, BUILD IT also constructed custom, moveable merchandise displays to allow for educational seminars, workshops and private events.

Mario Toneguzzi Headshot.jpg

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com


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Mario Toneguzzi

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com.