Success pushed Mid-Valley Pharmacy to a new location in Mercedes this year. Robert Zamora, John Hinkle and Adrian Cervantes had purchased the pharmacy in 2004
Even when the pharmacists bought the business 14 years ago, the pharmacy building was small. “People were used to going there,” Cervantes said. “We struggled with the idea of changing locations, but we outgrew the space. We needed something better for us, for our employees and also for the community.”
The new pharmacy on the expressway frontage road, which opened in September 2018, has more than double the floor space of the previous building and, of course, has more technological connections. “We had needed more space in general. We added a separate counseling room, a larger front end for over-the-counter items and for medical equipment that was often requested.” A pharmacist office is included along with a break room for employees and a larger waiting area.
“Over the last 10 years, a lot of independent pharmacies have closed down or sold out to bigger corporations,” Cervantes said. “We feel there is a need for a hometown pharmacy to provide the individualized service you don’t get at a chain drug store.” The Mercedes business is associated with the branding and marketing organization called Good Neighbors Pharmacies, which is recognized across the country.
“The attraction of hometown pharmacies is the opportunity for relationship building, individual attention and shorter wait times. It’s more about relationship and trust. I can visit with you for 10-15 minutes if you have a question. It’s almost a private consultation.”
For both the Mid-Valley pharmacist and the customer, the relationship is an important factor in prescription transactions. In contrast, at chain drug stores, most customers never speak to a pharmacist. The Mercedes pharmacy offers immunizations and free prescription delivery.
Mid-Valley Pharmacy’s three doctors of pharmacy divide the work and responsibilities among themselves. “We all kind of fell into our natural roles, where we are comfortable. John manages the pharmacy full time, I handle marketing and Robert deals with the back-office matters such as taxes.” Of course, all of them fill prescriptions and educate and assist customers.
The pharmacy now carries a wider range of durable medical equipment – from wheelchairs and lumbar to shower chairs – along with popular over-the-counter drugs, some of which are designed for diabetics. Pharmaceutical counseling is available for asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.
The ongoing success of Mid-Valley Pharmacy has led to spin-offs. Zamora and Cervantes owned a Raymondville pharmacy for a period. In September, Cervantes and his wife Natalie opened RGV Hometown Pharmacy in Harlingen.
While Cervantes now spends more of his time at the Harlingen store, he is still involved as an owner of Mid-Valley. The partners have hired a fourth pharmacist who works both in Mercedes and Harlingen. In addition, numerous pharmacy technicians play a major role in assisting customers with prescriptions and over-the-counter health aids.