West Seattle business news: Westside Pharmacy closing, sort of

Story and photo by Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

The free-standing Westside Pharmacy, which has been at the corner of California SW and Brandon Street for 20 years, is closing, but its longtime owner isn’t leaving the business – he is partnering with QFC to provide pharmacy services in their about-to-open Junction store.

Michael Ng, pharmacist and 32-year owner of Westside Pharmacy, tells WSB he is very excited about this partnership with QFC for a number of reasons, including the expanded hours and parking availability for his clients.

The QFC pharmacy will be open from 9 am to 9 pm, seven days a week. Michael Ng, or “Mike” to his clients, won’t be manning the pharmacy by himself all that time — he will be working with other pharmacists, all of whom, he says, are former independent pharmacy owners. Mike notes that QFC likes to work with owners from the independent-pharmacy culture because “they run the pharmacy with the patient in mind.”

Mike says that his pharmacy staff will all be transferring with him, and he will be retaining all his clients who want to move with him. He will be maintaining his current phone number: 206.937.5722. There will be no downtime during the transfer, he says and the transfer will be quick! The Westside Pharmacy crew will be installed at QFC in time for the store’s opening, currently expected to be next Wednesday.

Mike notes that QFC has been very accommodating and will allow Westside Pharmacy to continue to offer some of its special services such as blister packs, medisets, (which organize medications by time of day and day of the week — for example, all medications to be taken Monday mornings are grouped together.) and compounding.

When asked what inspired this change, Mike explains how increased government regulation has made operations more difficult for the independent pharmacies. He cites an increase in certifications and constantly changing rules as impediments to efficient, patient-focused care.

To inform his clients of the impending move, Mike sent out a letter which includes the following:

“The memories are too many to share but I can remark that it has been a wonderful lifetime career. Thank you all for your friendship and loyalty. I have always felt privileged to serve you. I hope we have made your lives a little healthier by our small effort.”

He doesn’t own the current pharmacy building, so what happens there next, we don’t yet know.

Thanks to Celeste for the tip about the Westside Pharmacy change.

18 Replies to "West Seattle business news: Westside Pharmacy closing, sort of"

  • I had heard September 10, 2009 (12:53 pm)

    Question: Will the new store still have anything like the medical supply selection currently available? Or will it simply be a standard pharmacy?

    The current store is FANTASTIC and has products you simply can’t get anywhere else…like Cavilon barrier film spray used for keeping bandage ‘tape’ from hurting your skin if you have bandages for week(s) after a surgery. I’m glad they’ll still be around, but I’ll miss it if they drop all the hard to find products for simple cold medicines and batteries.

  • I had heard September 10, 2009 (12:55 pm)

    (never mind…sounds like they WILL keep some of that…if I had read the later part of the original post). Thanks!

  • Deana September 10, 2009 (1:35 pm)

    Sad to see it move from its current location. Great pharmacy and pharmacist. I plan to continue to be a loyal customer.

  • natinstl September 10, 2009 (4:14 pm)

    I’m glad to see a larger company allowing an indepedant, neighborhood business integrate within the store, but stilling allowing them to operate as they have been rather than trying to change everything. Please not nail salon at the old store!

  • transplantella September 10, 2009 (5:06 pm)

    “When asked what inspired this change, Mike explains how increased government regulation has made operations more difficult for the independent pharmacies. He cites an increase in certifications and constantly changing rules as impediments to efficient, patient-focused care.”

    Thank you government, for making it ever harder for small businesses to stay afloat. Good job!

  • Jessica Fuller September 10, 2009 (5:49 pm)

    Mike was my parents pharmacist before he moved to this location that he is moving from. Its hard to hear that he couldn’t stay open on his own but I am glad he is moving to a store!

  • Ms Pam September 10, 2009 (7:31 pm)

    To Mike and his Wonderful Crew,

    Thanks for taking such great care of West Seattle! You always took time to “go the extra mile” for your customers. But mostly, thanks for caring…

    Best of luck!!

  • Kate K September 10, 2009 (9:24 pm)

    I’m glad Mike and crew will still be around at QFC. My family has been going to Westside Pharmacy since we moved here in 2001 and have appreciated their care and advice. We’ll be following them them to their new home.

  • The Velvet Bulldog September 10, 2009 (10:31 pm)

    I’ve always been amazed and impressed that even with my intermittent visits, Mike remembers my name and my ailment!

  • J Winter September 11, 2009 (6:37 am)

    See you at QFC Mike !

  • Fun to Believe September 11, 2009 (7:40 am)

    LOL. Despite the clever slogans, I think 99% of the problem is that small “mom & pop” stores just have a hard time competing in the last couple decades against mega-corporations. It’s how Wall Mart comes to a small town an crushes out all the old main street businesses. A “mom & pop” clothing store, fishing shop, or pharmacy, can’t really compete price wise. MAYBE the mom & pops have better service, but enough customers go solely on price that it’s very hard to compete.

    So even if you eliminate the “evil gov’ment” the best mom & pop store will have a hell of a struggle against Bartell, Wall Green and Wall Mart. How can they complete against Wall Marts “we’ll give you $1 prescriptions so we can get you in the doors” policy?

  • Fun to Believe September 11, 2009 (7:44 am)

    Think of it this way. Everyone claims to be more patriotic and America loving then the next person, especially in rural areas. Fine. But when the rubber meets the road…when the walk has to match the talk…they don’t support America. The run to Wall Mart and buy the CHEAPEST tee-shirts and socks made in China or Malaysia rather than spending twice as much for something made in America. Talk all you want about it, but I grew up in the midwest and I saw endless steams of pickups with little American flags on the bumpers rolling out with bags full of China made junk because Wall Mart was cheaper than the local stores. When was the last time you even SAW a “Buy American” sticker or TV commercial? I know Harley riders are proud their bikes are made in America. But those same Harley riders buy the cheap China made socks at Wall Mart.

  • Leroy September 11, 2009 (9:25 pm)

    Because if the dollar is all you have to weigh yourself to the next then yo are in deeper trouble than you know.

  • grr September 12, 2009 (1:36 am)

    ” But those same Harley riders buy the cheap China made socks at Wall Mart.”

    that’s cuz they paid insanely over-priced markups on their bikes..all they can afford is cheap clothes and salad bowls for helmets.

    :) :) :)

    (tounge firmly planted in cheek)

  • MindDrive September 14, 2009 (3:19 pm)

    Some Harley riders might plant your tongue in your cheek for you. LOL!

    Seriously, with this much positive feedback, even though I have not used Mike’s services yet, I am very likely to do so when and if the need arises. While we may miss the small pharmacy environment, if the same level of service and personal interaction can be found at a chain like QFC, I’m okay with that.

  • Andrea September 16, 2009 (1:56 pm)

    I, too, will miss it’s former location but the extended hours are nice. Although if Mike’s not there not sure it’s worth it;)His special care is the best around!
    I made the mistake of going to Walgreens once (as I had 2 little ones in carseats and wanted to use the drive thru). What a mistake!!! They lost my prescription and proceeded to tell my husband (who came to pick it up after work) that it was too bad and that we would have to get a new one! This being on a Friday night after the Pediatrician’s office closed. I had to threaten them on the phone that I would come down and find the scrip myself b/c my baby was not going overnight with no meds! They eventually found it but the rudeness that they exhibited to my husband and myself was inexcusable!

    Sorry so long, love ya Mike!

  • West Side Pharm Fan September 30, 2009 (5:48 pm)

    Mike and his crew are indeed great! One night, we had gotten out of a late pediatric appointment with one of our kids who had the flu. By the time we made it to Westside Pharmacy it was 5 minutes after closing. Without hesitation, Mike was kind enough to take the prescription and have it filled in just a few minutes.

    Our family looks forward to visiting him and his staff at QFC, we couldn’t imagine going anywhere else!!

  • wsgal October 5, 2009 (9:53 am)

    Looks like I’m the last one in town to discover this change but want to take a moment to RAVE about Mike and his team, all of whom are great at their jobs and wonderful assets to this community.

    Mike, thanks so much for years of terrific independent service. You’re a trusted friend and a role model to us all.

    And hey, QFC, in a community that has a few too many grocery stores, congratulations on being smart enough to bring Mike (and those of us who are his loyal customers) into your store.

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