Do you ever wish the wheels of progress would roll back to when you could easily get help from a live person? Do you crave a place where everyone knows your name – and health concerns? If you answered yes, consider breaking up with your chain drugstore. Go local and independent. You won’t need to search any farther than Tacoma’s Stadium District for the perfect blend of past and present customer service at Rankos’ Pharmacy.
Rankos’ specializes in repeat customers so they will most likely learn your name along the way. They love chatting with customers so much they might even get to know your spouse’s or partner’s name, your children’s names, your pets’ names and maybe even your parents’ names, too. Did I mention they make house calls?
Rankos’ is a family-owned business that remains true to its neighborhood drugstore roots. This local pharmacy founded by George Rankos in the 1920s has been owned by three generations – currently by Greg Rankos (George’s son and Managing Pharmacist), Deanna Crews-Rankos (Greg’s wife and Gift Shop Buyer/Manager) and Liz Rankos (their daughter and Pharmacist/Pharmacy Manager).
Rankos’ rooftop Rx sign illuminates the corner of Stadium Way and Tacoma Avenue, giving it hard-to-resist curb appeal. Once you step inside, the secret to their success becomes clear. The pharmacy, gift shop and in-store U.S. contract post office offer a one-stop-shop in a boutique atmosphere.
The small, independent pharmacy offers competitive prices for common services such as prescription refills, pharmacist consultations, vaccines and medical equipment purchases or rentals – plus shorter lines. Mail order prescriptions and free same-day deliveries to your home, office or facility are available also.
The pharmacy offers specialty services too. If you (or a family member) have difficulty remembering which medication you took when, they will prepackage your prescriptions in mediset boxes (individual day and time containers) or bubble packs (punch out pills for each day and time). Liz enjoys meeting with customers at the store or in their homes to review their medications and discuss vitamins and nutrition. This additional effort can prevent negative drug interactions and nutrient depletions. “Matching medications with disease states gets the best results and often eliminates unnecessary medications,” says Liz. “Warfarin is a common anticoagulant that is especially prone to interactions with other medications, supplements and foods.”
The above services are convenient and impressive, but Rankos’ Naloxone (pronounced nal lox zone) Opioid Overdose Prevention Program wins the prize for community service. This program is the first of its kind in Tacoma. About three years ago, Liz partnered with a local physician to create this take-home overdose prevention kit. Its costs around $150 and may be covered by your insurance. Training varies between 20 minutes to one hour, based on the patient needs, which is a relatively small investment to save a life.
Opioids include heroin and prescription pain killers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl. Naloxone reduces the effects of an opioid overdose after being sprayed inside the nose or injected into a muscle, depending on what is appropriate for the patient. Overdoses typically occur because a prescription medication or recreational drug is mixed with other prescription medications or alcohol.
Family members of addicts typically purchase the kits and receive the training. “We get a lot of moms,” says Deanna. “We’ve found that it helps open up the lines of communication within families and may eventually help to stop the addiction,” says Liz.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 52,404 people died from drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid overdoses took the lion’s share. 12,990 of those deaths were caused from heroin. 20,101 were caused from prescription pain killers. Abusers come in all ages and socio-economic statuses. The addict could be a grandmother.
The U.S. postal station in the back of the store is not only quaint, but convenient. It provides everything a typical post office does (mailing, stamps, priority and express mail supplies and money orders) plus a post mistress fluent in Spanish. They don’t provide international shipping – or long lines during the holidays.
The gift shop’s eye candy tempers the bread-and-butter pharmacy. If you are there for serious pharmacy business and have a short wait, you might forget why you came. The temptations are numerous. Think stylish hats and jewelry, comfy and colorful tops, bras, socks and slippers, soaps and oils for happy skin, fragrant candles, eco-friendly kitchenware, stationery and cards galore, and reading glasses that look expensive but aren’t. Add kids games, toys, classic books and plush stuffed animals. There is also complimentary gift wrapping and plenty of “cool stuff” in the men’s gift area. I doubt you’ll leave without an unplanned purchase.
When I asked Deanna if she had previous retail experience given the shop’s popularity, she responded, “No, but I like to shop.”
Seriously though, she readily admits, “It’s a delicate balance between pharmacy and gift shop. We don’t want the gift shop to get larger than the pharmacy.” Yet it is a stand-out.
Since 2008, Rankos’ has received several local awards for the best pharmacy and gift store.
For more information about the store, visit their website or give them a call at 253-383-2411. Rankos’ is located at 101 N. Tacoma Avenue in Tacoma.