"Me and my wife, we talked about it and prayed, and we just decided to take a step out on faith and start our own pharmacy"
Dr. Keith Hersey
As the pharmacist, manager, and owner of an independent, Black-owned pharmacy in Durham, North Carolina, Dr. Keith—as his patients call him—knows some of the barriers to running a small business.
After earning his pharmacy degree, Dr. Keith started at bigger chains, including Eckerd, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. After many years in the industry, he was laid off due to corporate mergers and had to decide his next move.
“Me and my wife, we talked about it and prayed, and we just decided to take a step out on faith and start our own pharmacy,“ Dr. Keith says of his decision. It took the Herseys two years to take their plan for their independent pharmacy from an idea to a full brick-and-mortar business, and Hersey Pharmacy launched in January 2020.
Unfortunately, no amount of planning could have prepared the Herseys to compete with a worldwide pandemic that would shut down Durham two months after their business opened its doors.
For their first year, they had virtually no foot traffic and limited ways of promoting their business. Nevertheless, the Herseys persevered and stayed committed to their dream of building a welcoming, community pharmacy in the heart of the City of Medicine.
“This past year , it was kind of our real first year where we could really start going out and going into the community and telling people about our services,” Dr. Keith says about their experience weathering the pandemic. “We may be a couple of years slower in our development than what we initially planned.”
"Dr. Keith makes it clear: his small pharmacy is here to compete with the big ones, and he’s unapologetic about inviting prospective clients to give them a chance."
Because of these unforeseen barriers to his business development, which many businesses experienced due to the pandemic, Dr. Keith’s goal in working with E3 Durham was to make up for the lost time.
What attracted Dr. Keith to E3 Durham was the knowledge of all the spokes working with hub Forward Cities. He saw joining E3 Durham as a way to up his knowledge fast and get the resources he needed to regain the business momentum he lost because of the pandemic.
Hersey Pharmacy has some big goals they want to achieve with the help of E3 resources. A short-term goal of his pharmacy is to help people understand how to improve their health conditions to a point where they can potentially reduce their medications. Dr. Keith is proud of this upcoming initiative and says this process is something he is looking to do himself over the next year. He will document his journey as part of the pharmacy’s social media content.
He’s also hoping to get financial support from E3 Durham resources to do pharmacogenomic testing—a field of research that studies how a person's genes affect how they respond to medications. He wants to focus on this area to make recommendations for his patients who take mental health or pain medications so they can better understand which medications to take and which ones to avoid based on their DNA.
Dr. Keith makes it clear: his small pharmacy is here to compete with the big ones, and he’s unapologetic about inviting prospective clients to give them a chance. “One of the biggest things that people may believe is that if they go to an independent pharmacy, they will pay more for their medications. Unless your prescription plan is restrictive, you will pay the same or less at our independent pharmacy.” But with the Herseys, you get the added personal touch of this down-home pharmacy with big pharmacy dreams!
Big things are happening for Hersey Pharmacy, and we’re excited to support their growth through E3 Durham.
You can follow Hersey Pharmacy on their Instagram page at instagram.com/herseypharmacy.
Photos courtesy of instagram.com/herseypharmacy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey Awesome Girl
Tivi Jones teaches, consults, and creates to help you make work (and the world) more awesome! Founder of Hey Awesome Girl, a creative agency with a social mission to empower women to become entrepreneurial consultants, she has appeared on PBS, RollingStone, Time, People en Español, and more.
Funded in part through a Grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.