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Simpson Bay Pharmacy: 20 years and still ticking

009_420x640~ Celebrating with weeklong discount ~

Simpson Bay Pharmacy has provided an important service to the St. Maarten community for the past 20 years, ensuring that thousands of patients get their prescriptions filled and information about the proper use of their medication.

The pharmacy will be celebrating its 20th anniversary today, Saturday, August 8, by saying thank you to its customers by giving a 20% discount on all over the counter (OTC) items until August 14. Clients can also enjoy a free makeup at 9:00am-12:00 noon today, provided by Medicosmetics St. Maarten. The pharmacy will also organise a colouring competition for children with the winners set to receive some "great prizes."

Simpson Bay Pharmacy first opened its doors with a grand ceremony on August 8, 1995, as an expansion of Friendly Island Pharmacy, which was already in existence at the time.

Pharmacists Joep Groenendijk and Jaap Ensing opened the pharmacy to cater to the pharmaceutical needs of residents in the Simpson Bay, Cole Bay, Maho areas at the time.

Pharmacist Tamara Landino, who started managing the pharmacy in 2006, eventually took over the operations in 2014.

Simpson Bay Pharmacy, which first opened with five employees, today has grown to include a team of 10, including Landino, and her husband Edwin Landino as manager and administrator, four pharmacist assistants, three cashiers/sales ladies, and a cleaning lady who is also the establishment's "talented window decorator." Staff-members are Sarah Rondon, Chermain Jno Charles, Jacintha Johnston-Williams, Ingrid van Els, Casilda Illidge-Benjamin, Natasha Snelting, Yoneka Richardson and Julie Walker.

The pharmacy, which has always been at its current location at Simpson Bay Yacht Club, started off small retailing just about 3,000 different pharmaceutical items. This has grown to about 5,000 items today, including an envious selection of European and American prescription medicines (both brands and generic). The well-stocked pharmacy carries prescription drugs, OTC medication and beauty products as well as a wide assortment of vitamins and health supplements. Their beauty and personal care products meet the needs of the many ethnic groups living on the island. In stock are items for skincare, haircare, cosmetics, feminine care, baby care and more.

Simpson Bay Pharmacy operates in conformity with Federal Drug Association requirements and the laws and regulations of St. Maarten.

Looking back on how things have changed over the years, Landino said, "As St. Maarten grew, business has also changed. On the other hand, Simpson Bay Pharmacy was the fourth pharmacy on the island, now there are 12, so competition has increased a lot."

Asked what the pharmacy's biggest impact on the community over the last two decades has been, she said: "We always hear that we provide good service and that we have wide assortment. That's why we attract customers from all over the island and many tourists. We are proud to be voted the Best Pharmacy in St Maarten for many years."

Simpson Bay Pharmacy was named Best Pharmacy in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2007 and 2009, it was first runner up with sister pharmacy Friendly Island coming in at first place.

The pharmacy has some 10,000 regular resident customers as well as many more tourists. Landino has estimated that over the last 20 years, over a million customers have entered the pharmacy's front door. She said the pharmacy has been slowing but steadily growing.

The challenges encountered over the years include collecting payments from government and insurance companies and the incidental hurricanes that wreaked havoc on the island.

Asked how she thinks the industry can be improved for pharmacies operating in the local market, Landino said: "Synchronisation of insurance policies, open dialogue and cooperation within the healthcare sector."

"The most memorable moment was probably being open right after Hurricane Luis as the only pharmacy on the island after having opened our doors for the first time just three weeks earlier."

She said Simpson Bay Pharmacy sets itself apart from the other pharmacies on the island with its friendly service, professional dedication of the staff and inviting presentation.

"Easy internet access to our website has made our pharmacy more popular for tourists visiting St. Maarten. We regularly get mail with questions and requests from our foreign and local clients, so it's a positive impact."

As for the pharmacy's future goals, Landino said she sees Simpson Bay Pharmacy getting busier, more technologically advanced and playing a prominent role in the pharmaceutical healthcare in St Maarten.

To the pharmacy's loyal clients, Landino says, "Thank you for your patronage and trust... We value every patient and client and gladly go the extra mile to be helpful and professional."

Simpson Bay Pharmacy is located at Welfare Road #68 in Simpson Bay Yacht Club and is in walking distance to a medical clinic, an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Clinic and a dentist. Contact info: 1 (721) 544-3653 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / www.sxmpharmacy.com

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