Stoughton's New Hope Pharmacy: customer service and community

"They call us the mall," says staffer Teresa Walker of Stoughton's New Hope Pharmacy. "It's about what we have, not about what we don't have."

When husband and wife owners Chelsea and Hazel Schindel purchased the store in 2007, the couple was determined "to do something that set us apart from other places," says Hazel. As part of the PharmaChoice network of stores, New Hope "has the latest pharmacy technology," adds Hazel. "And between Chelsea and our other pharmacist, Janet Wiggins, we have about 50 years of combined pharmacy experience."

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However, in addition to the full-service pharmacy, which offers free delivery to Stoughton seniors, the store also sells a considerable and varied selection of merchandise, which is all part of the couple's aim to provide a unique shopping destination and also underscores their committment to customer service.

"The store sort of evolved," says Hazel. "The old place had jewellery and it went really well. It also had a few toys and we couldn't keep those in stock. When we decided to build on to the store, it just grew."

"I really just put myself in my customers' place," she says. "When we lived in Macoun and my kids needed to take a gift to a birthday party, we ended up going to the city. And if you're in the city for one thing, well...your whole day goes."

"That gave me an idea to give our customers the convenience of shopping in town," says Hazel. "It saves people running out and wasting their day."

The store sells a wide selection of drugstore staples, including school, stationery and office supplies, cosmetics, vitamins, and food and pharmacy items. A selection of Saskatchewan Roughrider merchandise has quick turnovers and currently features some electronic accessories sold to Hazel by none other than former Rider, Stu Foord. However, Hazel has also sectioned off the store into a series of small, mini-boutiques devoted to traditional and trendy baby wear as well as spa supplies, home decor [both contemporary and Western], and a wall of toys that includes brands like Lego, Hello Kitty, Disney, Klutz and Playskool.

"I love the people interaction," says Hazel. "Even though I've ordered them, when we get our new orders in, it's like Christmas. It's fun. And I love seeing people that are happy and get something that they really like when they come in. Or if they're in a hurry and they need a gift and they don't have to go into the city."

Hazel says that she and Chelsea try to make the store a place where customers' needs and wants are met. "We try to buy Canadian when we can. And I love discovering new and innovative items for our customers. We have homeware featuring the work of [area artist] Bernie Brown. We carry Bath Goddess products; the founder of that company is a Stoughton boy. We also carry Earth Elements candles by Janice Lenius, whose father-in-law is Don Lenius from Stoughton. She adds, "Earth Elements products were featured in the Daytime Emmy Awards gifting lounge only last year."

"If a customer buys giftware $20 and up, we will do free gift wrapping," says Hazel. "It's a service that's for everyone, but the young oil guys really like it."

The Schindels and their staff of six [Janet Wiggins, Virginia Deren, Teresa Walker, Carole Hugo, Amanda Cameron and Karen Coderre] are equally committed to customer service, "above and beyond," says Hazel.

"We fix watches, we do deliveries and we'll order office and computer supplies. Stationery orders are usually in the next day, but 90 percent of the time, we will run into Estevan and get it if we don't have it. It's all part of our commitment to customer service. We have customer service extraordinaire, says Hazel. "We believe in going above and beyond and so do our staff."

"Support from the surrounding area has been excellent," says Hazel. "Our customers are from Stoughton, Heward, Forget, Corning and the surrounding areas. We even have some people that come here now from Estevan, too."

Hazel says that by shopping locally, the pharmacy's customers are not only enabling the Schindels and their staff to make a living; they are also helping support local organizations.

"Because of people shopping here, we are able to give back to local causes and clubs. We are so pleased to do so and when our customers come here, it benefits everybody."

Customer Kayla Graves of Stoughton says, "I think they're a great store. I love their jewellery and I'm actually going there today. I used to get my prescriptions in Weyburn, but I'd be waiting for 45 minutes sometimes. Here, they're super-fast."

Chelsea Schindel echoes his wife's sentiments: "We appreciate the support we get from our community. It's very good. We have no bad customers, they're all good."

New Hope Pharmacy is located at 316 Main Street, Stoughton. Phone (306) 457-2522.

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