Pharmacy gets face lift for 70th anniversary

Sunday, July 31, 2005

OMAHA, Neb. -- For 70 years, Kubat Pharmacy was a traditional corner drug store. With the addition of "Everything Medical" to its name, however, Kubats tried to add much more without losing its family charm.
Recently, the Kubat brothers, the third generation to own the business, decided to turn their backs on much of the traditional drug store fare, including tobacco and alcohol, and focus on a "progressive" face-lift of its remaining store set.
Now, as the remodel takes shape, Kubats is anything but traditional. Its custom design includes a cathedral ceiling with exposed Montana pine beams, bright hues of red, orange and brown, a yellow brick road-inspired floor and an area for children featuring a giant beehive for them to play in.
"Our target was to visually invite our customers through the store, not just to get to the products they need," said owner Barry Kubat. "Our store is designed to arouse curiosity and pull the customers throughout."
The redesign also highlights the company's growing home healthcare business. Over the past few years, Kubats has turned its focus to four new divisions -- full-service respiratory, orthotics, HME retail and rehab -- to complement the pharmacy operations.
"Stores like Walgreens have taken the traditional corner drug store to a new level. Independent businesses can't compete with that, so we got rid of the tobacco, liquor and gift departments," said Kubat. "Now, these new decisions combined are driving a concept that is regenerating us as a destination point for total health care."
"A lot of pharmacies are heading toward the home healthcare market. It's a good niche for them to get into," said Theresa Boston, of Gladson Store Design Group, which specializes in pharmacy and home healthcare store designs.
"[Kubats] is one of the more progressive designs," she added.
Kubat said their goal was to be "less sterile" than other pharmacy HMEs they visited. They softened the compounding pharmacy by "dressing it down" and putting wood fronting on the fixtures. They also dropped the pharmacy deck to ground level to allow for easier interaction between customers and pharmacists.
On the home health side, they added upholstered seats, private consultation rooms and working models of many products.
"We are evolving and trying to create a store that makes home health products touchy-feely," said Kubat. "We don't want customers to say, 'Oh my God, I don't want that.' We want them to say, 'Hey, that looks nice.'"
The redesign also incorporates aspects of the pharmacy's 70-year history. Its billboard pictures Barry Kubat's grandfather's first delivery truck in the middle of a snowstorm and reads, "Prescription deliveries."
"Your business needs to stay through all kinds of weather, and we are trying to emulate that symbolically with signs and messages," said Kubat. 'We are lucky with the tradition of service that came from our grandfather and father, and we have to be careful not to drop that. If we do drop that, then no matter how much remodeling we do, we won't last."