SAN ANTONIO — As a child, Shannon Corkrean stood behind a pharmacy counter beside her father.
She, a first-grader, counted the pills. He, the pharmacist, recounted them. Her time in the independent pharmacy shadowing her dad taught her about customer service and math. As an adult, she uses the skills every day where she spends most of her time: behind the counter of her own pharmacy.
About a year ago, Corkrean, 27, was working as a Kmart pharmacist — her second job since finishing pharmacy school at the University of Charleston in West Virginia in 2010. But a "For Rent" banner hanging between posts in front of a beige building on Curley Street sparked thought of her ultimate goal — to open an independent pharmacy like her dad's.
Following in his footsteps hadn't always been the plan, she said. She first wanted to be a doctor. As part of a career day assignment in high school, Corkrean sat in on an open-heart surgery at Leesburg Regional Medical Center. During prep, she said, she sat with the patient, whose veins were too small to take needles. An anesthesiologist had to put something down the patient's throat.
"Seeing someone suffer like that, I knew being a doctor wouldn't be a good choice for me," Corkrean said. Her father had never pressured her to pursue a career in pharmacy, but an uncle — also a pharmacist — made the suggestion.
"I could do that and still be able to help people," Corkrean said.
Magnolia Pharmacy, named after the tree, has been open on Curley Street since May and is the only pharmacy within a 10-mile radius. Corkrean, whose 29-year-old brother, Sean, is also a pharmacist, models her business after their dad's.
James Corkrean, 61, still owns and runs the Pharmacist pharmacy in Leesburg, where his daughter helped him in childhood. It started its 23rd year of business earlier this month.
When the shop first opened, Shannon and her siblings alternated Saturday mornings at the Pharmacist, James Corkrean said. They learned to interact with the elderly, he said, and honed communication skills, experiences "just as important as the professional knowledge."
His daughter is good at what she does, James Corkrean said, because "she has the ability to communicate in a pharmacist-patient relationship, and the desire to do that."
She also hopes to make her customers comfortable. Magnolia is "homey," Shannon Corkrean said, and connects the old to the new. The pharmacy's selection of over-the-counter drugs covers just seven shelves, but is popular among customers for what it includes: Father John's Medicine, Porter's Liniment Salve, Bag Balm — "all your old remedies. A lot of people still love them," she said.
People also love doing things the easy way, Shannon Corkrean said, so Magnolia accommodates: customers can renew prescriptions from computers or phones. Using a smartphone app, "you can scan the bottle and (the refill request) goes straight to our computer." The pharmacy also provides free delivery.
"We don't have a lot of people taking us up on (delivery)," she said, but "it's a great service," especially for people who can't drive.
Shannon Corkrean offers her customers something else that reminds her of what her dad offers his: "one-on-one time."
"We know you when you walk in. I know your medications," she said.
Accessibility to a pharmacist is important, she said, because "doctors are in and out," patients come up with questions between appointments and "who knows what you can find on the Internet?"
Appointments to talk with Shannon Corkrean aren't necessary, she said, and Magnolia's slogan vouches for it: Caring for you with a dose of southern hospitality.
Arleen Spenceley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6235.