PALMA CEIA — He has been a pharmacist for 15 years now, but some of Brad Esposito's favorite work-related memories come from his time as a teenage delivery driver and stock boy at a small pharmacy in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Esposito loved it so much that he went to pharmacy school. After graduation, he ended up at a large retail chain where he quickly realized that not every pharmacy was so personable and quaint.
"It was an eye-opener: 'This is completely different from what I'm used to.' It was more impersonal and people hollering at you because they don't know you or understand what you're doing," he said.
Esposito never stopped thinking about re-creating those early experiences. On April 2, he opened his own neighborhood pharmacy, the Palma Ceia Health Mart Pharmacy at 2506 S MacDill Ave.
The 1,400-square-foot shop has a full-service pharmacy, that includes over-the-counter medicines, first aid and convenience items like greeting cards and fresh chocolates from Schakolad Chocolate Factory on Howard Avenue. The pharmacy also has the ability to compound or mix some medications.
"The one thing that people don't realize is that independent pharmacies offer the equivalent if not more of what chain pharmacies are offering," Esposito said.
Esposito calls his new pharmacy "a leap of faith" that came after more than a decade of dreaming (while working mostly for big chains) and a solid year of planning. His goal? To offer the kind of personal touch that small local pharmacies are known for.
"I don't have drive through; I don't have 24-hour service," he said. "You can call me, though. I'll give you my home phone number and if you have an emergency, I can open up my store for you.
"We'll bend over backwards for our customers. I'll do whatever it takes to keep them so I can take care of them and their kids. You build a relationship and you get to see their families grow along with yours. That's my goal. I want to be a neighborhood pharmacy that's here the next 20 years at least."
A grand opening will be Wednesday, when Esposito will offer free diabetes and cholesterol screenings. Hours at Palma Ceia Health Mart are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 to 2 on Saturday. For more information, call (813) 839-8700.
New source to spruce up old doors, floors
As a builder with an affinity for architectural salvage, Larry Schiller knows the building and remodeling business isn't what it was a few years ago.
But a couple of themes have emerged in a troubled economy, he says: Owners of old homes still are on the hunt for vintage pieces, and the rest of the remodelers are looking for a bargain.
Schiller is hoping his architectural and design salvage shop, Schiller Salvage, will be a good fit.
A longtime collector of interesting vintage and salvaged items, Schiller has put all his stuff (and more) in a 2,400-square-foot warehouse and a 5,000-square-foot outdoor space at 1708 W Cypress St.
Inventory can vary greatly because he likes to price things to sell fast. This week, he said, he had on hand: vintage doors, ironwork, beveled glass, windows, hardware, columns and lighting. Next week, his shop will be salvaging heart pine flooring from a home being torn down.
Schiller also carries higher-end new items like tile, flooring, and carpet pieces that are left over from a job or never installed because of hanged plans.
In a twist to the typical architectural salvage shop, he also is offering what he and wife, Charlie (an interior designer), call "design salvage," which are furniture and accessories from designers that never made it to the home or office they were purchased for.
In Tampa, architectural salvage shops have "come and gone," Schiller said. "We're hoping the mix of the designer stuff and the architectural stuff should help us survive."
Hours at Schiller Salvage are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (and most Saturdays) and by appointment. The website: www.schillersalvage.com.
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