“Community pharmacy” is such a simple phrase. It evokes your short walk to the neighborhood pharmacy, good advice from people you trust, and a resource you can come back to throughout your whole life. For those of us who work at Community Pharmacy, it’s also a mission. We believe in providing person-to-person care and honest health information. We involve ourselves with grassroots health organizations that serve the different cultural, political, gender, economic and spiritual communities within our city. As a part of the Madison community health care system, Community Pharmacy is committed to providing resources for health and wellness in everyday life and a wide range of health care options. We offer access to health information from different medicinal modalities to encourage educated choices and offer a variety of health care products from which to choose.
Community Pharmacy’s storefront at 341 State Street. Photo by the authors.
Commmunity Pharmacy (CP) began in 1972 as a UW-Madison Wisconsin Student Association-sponsored store to provide affordable prescription medicine and basic body-care products to students and community members. Shortly afterwards, CP became an autonomous entity, run collectively by workers and pharmacists. After two decades of thriving in downtown Madison, we reincorporated as a worker cooperative and began to view CP as a comprehensive health care resource for our community. We expanded our selection of health care products to include pharmaceutical; nutritional supplements; herbs in bulk, capsules and tinctures; Chinese patent remedies; homeopathic remedies; skin and hair care items; informational books; and greeting cards.
Doreen Kunert and Jackie Nikolauss at Community Pharmacy’s herb counter. Photo by the authors.
There is no owner or manager of Community Pharmacy. The management responsibilities of the store are handled by the entire staff, along with daily customer service and store maintenance duties. We use a team structure for ongoing management, which currently includes eight teams that focus on our store’s advertising, business & bookkeeping, buying, prescription dispensary, mail order, merchandising, outreach & education and personnel tasks. We solve problems cooperatively with our combined expertise. We make decisions collectively, informed by our diverse opinions and are personally invested in the growth and care of our business. We believe CP is more vital and sustainable because of our worker cooperative structure.
Today, after more than 38 years as a local health resource, Community Pharmacy is regarded as a welcoming place where customers know the staff will always treat them with respect and take the time to offer them individualized advice. Our pharmacists and staff strive to integrate the principals of evidence-based pharmaceutical medicine with knowledge of nutritional supplements and traditional herbal remedies to create a balance of wellness between preventative and curative care. Our cooperative believes that access to accurate, unbiased health care information and affordable medication should be available to everyone.