David Garza opened his San Benito pharmacy on April 1, 1980. That same day, his wife Dorothy gave birth to their first child.
It’s 40 years later and The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy endures. The landmark anniversary has been met by a worldwide pandemic in the spring of 2020. The COVID-19 virus has put a dent in the longstanding community pharmacy. It perseveres, however, under the primary watch of a second generation of Garza pharmacists – Thomas – and with the same smile and cheer of his father.
“I was fortunate to grow up in it,” Thomas Garza said. “It’s an honor to continue in the business my dad started and continue to serve our community.”
The young pharmacist is the third of the Garza children. He is the son of a pharmacist with many years in public service. David Garza also served on the San Benito school board and today is a Cameron County commissioner. Thomas has now taken over financial management of the San Benito pharmacy while also being a partner in the ownership of San Juan Drug in Hidalgo County.
“Independent pharmacies sometimes get overlooked,” Thomas Garza said. “I hope people continue to see the value of local, family-owned pharmacies and what we do for our patients.”
Local, Personal Service
The personal touch offered by the community pharmacies has been evident during the COVID crisis, Garza said. The Medicine Shoppe has its longtime customers to tend to as well as new customers who he says are hesitant to visit the larger chain store pharmacies with fears about excessive human contact.
Garza said he’s able to contact doctors his family has known for years in ensuring customers get the medications they need when worries have mounted during a pandemic. The San Benito pharmacy has also been there for customers via virtual online visits. It also has timely pickups through its busy drive drive-through window.
It has stocked up on masks and sanitizers for its customers, including a partnership with Rio Grande Distillery of Los Fresnos to sell hand sanitizer by the ounce for the public, with discounts for police, first responders, medical personnel and truckers.
“We feel we have the community’s trust,” said Garza, whose wife, Shannon, is also a healthcare professional. “We try to do our best for our business and for our community. Every day is an opportunity to do our best.”
Garza had thoughts of being a physician or a college professor during his growing up years, but said, “the calling was always there.” After graduating from San Benito High School, he set out for the University of Texas in Austin, and from there to pharmacy school at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Kingsville.
He has used the COVID period of more limited open store hours to have his staff work on ramping up the pharmacy’s website, a project long on the Garza to-do list.
“I told my staff, ‘We’re going to grind through it. Let’s work together and use it as an opportunity to put our business where it needs to be coming out of this (COVID),'” Garza said.