Along with the post office, police station and schoolhouse, the general store or drugstore is a foundation pillar of any community or town. Amidst prescription pick-ups and greeting card runs, relationships among the residents are forged between its aisles. TSO reporter Curt Cawley pops into the Kingston branch of Fontana Pharmacy to rifle through their generic candy jars and chat franchising with Zadia Forbes, sales and marketing manager of the chain - no clean-up on aisle six here!
What's the genesis of the name Fontana Pharmacy?
At our first store location - which has been located in Manchester Shopping Centre, Mandeville since the late-1960s - there was fountain constructed in front of that Fontana section of the shopping centre. In that same year, our founders, Bobby and Angela Chang, welcomed their sixth child into the world, Anne. Inspired by the water feature and the sound and feel of the name 'Anne', the Changs christened the drugstore 'Fontana' -- a loose portmanteau of the two names.
How long has the company been in the retail industry?
Fontana has been in the retail industry for 45 years. We opened the doors of our first location in 1968. We expanded to Montego Bay 25 years later, in 1993. Savanna-la-Mar followed in 2007 and we made it to Kingston earlier this year, in January, with our Barbican Square location.
What keeps the chain interested in the drugstore business?
Despite the numerousness
of our departments, the core pharmacy operations remain the centrepiece of our business, but once we had established ourselves in this market we realised there were many more of our customers' needs to be met. The whole family shops here, so as a result of extensive customer feedback and observation, we've subswequently added party, toys, houseware, personal care, cosmetics, and arts and crafts sections. We've also tried to bring an international atmosphere to our branches with store-within-stores such as Café Blue, Photodayz, Scoops, Paymaster, a business centre, and so on.
What brands do you carry?
All the major brands carried in Jamaica can be found at Fontana.
What are your fastest moving brands and/or product categories?
The vitamins, health & beauty and cosmetics departments do very well for the chain: Brands such as Maybelline, Black Opal, Revlon, L'Oréal, LA Girl and Milani have to be constantly replenished at our make-up counters across the island. Pantene, Olay and Neutrogena are the go-tos in the health & beauty aisles; and vitamins are must-haves for Fontana shoppers.
How would you describe the Fontana Pharmacy customer?
The Fontana patron wants quality products at affordable prices, in a pleasant atmosphere matched by excellent customer service.
What can shoppers expect from Fontana Pharmacy on Thursday, September 19, when The Jamaica Observer Takes Style Out?
Expect big discounts islandwide. Think: 20-70 per cent off on our cosmetics, home décor, housewares, toys and bikes. Additionally, we'll have some branch-specific surprises at Fontana Pharmacy Kingston in Barbican. We have also partnered with our suppliers - Consumer Brands, Carimed, Kirk Distributors, Pioneer, Beauty Concept, Beauty Spot, Kelly's Pen, Appleton, Café Blue, Photodayz, Hopwood, Snead & Sons, to name a few - to offer gift-with-purchase and buy-one-get-one deals, to our valued TSO shoppers.
Besides the great deals to be had, we will also be administering beauty makeovers from a line-up of our most popular cosmetic brands and they'll be sampling stations and bars on our shop floors, courtesy of our TSO partners, namely Caribbean Producers Jamaica, Appleton, Wisynco & World Brands, among others.
I'd like to also add that our team members - who are all very excited for Thursday, the 19th - will all be dressing up and
holding a 'best dressed' competition among themselves on the big day.