Baker's adds family atmosphere to island charm
Locals and summer visitors know that when they have a healthrelated problem, they can ask the pharmacist at Baker's Pharmacy. The independently-owned drugstore on Narragansett Avenue is stronger than ever as it observes 30 years of service to the community.
"February 17, to be exact," Tim Baker noted the anniversary date of when he began the business. Originally from Wickford, Baker chose Jamestown as a site for a new pharmacy after completing his degree from the University of Rhode Island.
The move to the island proved to be a good decision. Over the years, Baker has cultivated a loyal clientele, expanded the variety of products offered, and built his own commercial building. Months passed, however, before the community became aware of the quiet celebration this year. Baker laughed off belated congratulatory words, saying, "We didn't send out any announcements."
The pharmaceutical industry has changed much in the last few decades, and the local pharmacy has grown along with it. From electronic prescribing to Medicare programs, Baker keeps abreast of innovations and policies in order to improve customer service. "I never thought our business would get as big as it is, or as complicated," he chuckled.
Baker mentioned the recent connection established with Health Mart Pharmacy, a franchise network that unifies independent pharmacists under one brand. "It allows us to compete as a chain, but we're not a chain," Baker explained.
He went on to talk about the advantages of staying independent, instead of operating as part of a corporate chain. The small staff, one full-time and two parttime pharmacists in addition to Baker, allows customer service on a personal level. One employee, Becky Westall, has worked there for ten years. "We get to know our patients, and we know what they need," he said.
Knowing his customers is one of the neat things Baker likes about doing business in Jamestown. "You don't realize how attached you get to people," he added. He also likes being his own boss, which allows him to do things his way.
Baker's sister, Pamela, has been with the store from almost the beginning, working part-time while in college. She earned her teaching degree, but no teaching jobs were available when she graduated. "I've been here ever since," she said.
Pamela does the front store ordering, according to Baker. She purchases seasonal and holiday items, and pays attention to customer needs. If someone asks for an item, it is usually delivered the next day, Pam explained. If an item is regularly requested, she will keep it in stock. "We work with McQuade's and the hardware store as well," Baker added. "We all work together."
Pamela had good words to say about her brother, and showed gratitude for the years of teamwork. Family businesses can often trigger tense moments, but Baker and his sister have been a good match, overall. "We always seem to work things out. He's been great to me," Pam said, adding, "I can't believe it's been 30 years."