SIERRA VISTA — Consumer medicine is taking a more intimate approach, thanks to a new local business owner with decades of experience in the field.
Janet Buchner, who opened BeeWell Pharmacy at 315 Canyon de Flores three weeks ago, plans to potentially have a grand opening by end of the year.
Buchner comes from a background of nearly 30 years of experience in her role as a pharmacist, including six of those years working as an intern and pharmacy technician.
Her father was stationed at Fort Huachuca in the late ‘70s; she has lived in Sierra Vista for most of her life and graduated from Buena High School.
Not knowing what she wanted to pursue after she enrolled at Cochise College, Buchner didn’t discover the field of pharmacy until her last semester. She then transferred to University of Arizona for the following six years, finishing her academics and earning her doctorate of pharmacy.
Buchner helped open the pharmacy located at the Sierra Vista Target when she moved back to the area in 2006. Bashas’ pharmacy at Food City across from Target recruited Buchner in 2008.
“I took what I learned there and tried to improve upon it here,” she said.
Buchner said that owning a business runs in the blood of her family. Her mother and sister owned and ran a Chinese restaurant in town during the ‘80s, but she knew that restaurant work was not her niche.
“I kept thinking what could be great for Sierra Vista,” she said.
At one point, Buchner considered choosing a different career but when the pandemic started, pharmacies were open and essential.
“It made me think, why am I trying to reinvent myself and just stick to what I know, which is pharmacy,” she said.
Buchner said May was when she fully researched independent pharmacies and discovered how many women-owned pharmacies there were. She said that meeting Mark Schmitt, director at the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College, was a pivotal moment in completing her business plan.
“If it weren’t for him, I don’t think I would have really fully gone through with the business plan,” she said.
BeeWell pharmacy provides regular prescriptions, pet medications, over-the-counter items and a variety of local vendor products. In addition, it will soon be offering immunizations and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Buchner said her experience working at the pharmacy for Food City enabled her to establish a rapport with the public and providers in town.
She said some people enjoy the hometown pharmacy feel. She also said she had toyed with the idea of calling the business “hometown pharmacy.”
The location was important for Buchner since she wanted to make accessibility as simple as possible to help serve Sierra Vista and outlying rural communities. BeeWell Pharmacy offers flexibility with its services, including free delivery and curbside pick-up.
“People don’t want to be in a long line and be another number,” she said.
One of the programs Buchner hopes to implement will be called “med synchronization.” It will allow meds to synch up at one specific time for customers as opposed to multiple time periods of having to visit the pharmacy throughout the month.
“They either make one trip in, or they make one trip out, (we are trying) to get people to be compliant and also to be able to consolidate it so they’re not spending as much as money on gas or using their time to come in every other day to pick up a prescription,” Buchner said. “We just try to make it as simplified as possible for them.”
Liala Martin, marketing manager for BeeWell, has been in pharmacy for more than 20 years and worked with Buchner at Food City. She uses tools such as social media and the neighborhood app Nextdoor to promote the visibility of the new pharmacy.
When Martin learned Buchner was opening BeeWell Pharmacy, she was ready to support it in any way.
“I personally know from experience that waiting in line or waiting at a drive-thru for over a half hour can be a little too much only to find out your prescriptions are still not ready,” she said.
Martin said the personalized touch is what makes BeeWell Pharmacy unique.
“People like to come in, they like their name to be known,” she said.