Kristin & Chris Holmes buy historic Denver drugstore 3 weeks before she gets CU pharmacy degree

Couple's focus: Revive pharmacy's personal touch

DENVER - When it comes to opening a new business, it's all about location.

And in the Capitol Heights neighborhood of Denver, new ownership is highlighting the importance of keeping business local and personal.

Just ask Kristin and Chris Holmes, the husband and wife team who are the new owners of the 132-year-old Capitol Heights Pharmacy, thanks to some unique planning.

"We took over in May before Kristin even graduated," said Chris Holmes with a smile. 

Yes, he and his wife bought a pharmacy three weeks before she graduated with her doctor of pharmacy degree. That’s a first for the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

Holmes admits, she's not into doing things the typical way. Getting a bank loan as a student is nearly unheard of. 

"I knew it was unusual, but I didn't know just how unusual it was until I went to a conference where I chatted with other independent pharmacy owners," said Kristin Holmes, chuckling a bit. "I sent out a bunch of letters to various independent pharmacies in the area asking if anybody was looking to sell and this was one opportunity that came up."

The previous owner of Capitol Heights Pharmacy was willing to sell. Then Holmes and her husband, who has years of business experience, put together what they call a solid business plan and attempted to get a loan.

"It was definitely not an easy task. I wasn't sure we were going to pull it off until the day it happened and then we both kind of looked at each other and said, 'oh my gosh!   We actually got it done," said Chris Holmes, as he and Kristin laughed that memory. "We just had a unique package, and we showed the bank that we could run this successfully and do a great job with it."

7NEWS got a quick tour of the store located at 12th and Madison in Denver. Established in 1881, Capitol Heights Pharmacy continues to be Colorado’s oldest operating pharmacy. Thanks to an original liquor license, the aisles are filled with everything from windshield washer fluid to boxed wine and cheese.

"We want to bring back what the community used to love about the pharmacy. We have everything from a wacky grocery section here to a really great beer selection," said Kristin Holmes, while pointing out the newly expanded cooler selection of Colorado beer.

 

--New Focus On Customer Relationships--

Overall, Kristin and Chris tell 7NEWS they are banking that their unique combination of medicine knowledge and business savvy will change the way this part of Denver thinks about purchasing prescriptions. They believe it's about taking time to get to know their customers.

"We have more of that personalized time to be able to sit down with people. We’ll do vaccines, but also really be able to discuss their medications with them.  I think that’s the biggest thing that sets us apart," said Kristin Holmes.

So, behind the chardonnay, the local beer and all of the grocery items is the pharmacy.   It is staffed by familiar faces.

"I think there's a lot to be said about going back to the days when the pharmacist knew your name and knew your medications," said Chris Holmes. "That used to exist and that's been lost and that's something that we'd really like to bring back to the neighborhood."

"I love to see the small business growing and I think we need to see more of that," said longtime pharmacy customer, Kari McCrady.  "It"s nice because medicines are personal and you want to know the people you are working with."

The couple is optimistic they, along with their staff of eight, can compete in a world that's becoming more and more automated.

"All over you see examples of people making it by offering superior experience or superior product and that's what we want to have in our pharmacy," said Krisitn Holmes.

So far, their plan is working.  Pharmacy hours have been extended and, up next, the couple is considering starting a local delivery service.

Find more information about Capitol Heights Pharmacy at: http://www.chprx.com/