I Left the City: Beloved Pharmacist Credits Small-Town Living for Business Success and Happiness
By Michelle Annette Tremblay
What does a small town pharmacy in Canada look like in 2018? The answer might surprise you. Nickle’s Pharmacy in Marmora, Ontario, has a small footprint, but a huge impact.
Absent are the big logos and lights of urban box-store pharmacies like Rexall or Shoppers Drug Mart. There are no push-carts or self-serve check-out kiosks. Instead, customers enter a pleasant if unassuming storefront and are greeted with a broad smile by owner/operator Maha Majeet, and her friendly, capable staff.
“Maha is my favourite pharmacist”, boasts Marmora resident Elizabeth Teskey, as she describes numerous ways in which Maha goes above and beyond for her customers, including making the occasional home delivery. “I’d be very upset if she ever left, because I’d have to drive all the way to wherever she is.” The sentiment is shared by customer after customer.
Originally from Iraq, Maha immigrated to Canada in 1996, and lived and worked in Mississauga for six years before she decided to leave the city to run her own business in Hastings County. It was a big change and required hard work and a leap of faith, but it paid off. Maha now runs a very successful pharmacy with a loyal staff and customer base, and she and her family get to discover new treasures around Hastings County, such as the local winery, several award-winning spas, provincial parks with hiking trails, and dining and shopping destinations. All this, without the pollution, gridlock, congestion, or high-cost of city life.
“I was worried at first that my husband, Heidar, wouldn’t enjoy living in a small town,” Maha admits with a chuckle. “Now I can’t get him to leave. Not even for the weekend… He says this is my family, this is where I belong. People know me here.”
Situated on the scenic Crowe River, Marmora is home to fewer than two thousand year-round residents and has a sleepy small-town feel, reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. Don’t be fooled though, there are several nice shops and cafes in the stroll-worthy downtown, and anything you can’t find there is easily accessible in nearby Belleville.
“It’s home,” Maha says, smiling, surrounded by her staff, who indeed seem more like family than employees.
The wife, mother and business owner explains that she gets tremendous satisfaction from being able to provide top-notch service to her customers. It’s the nature of operating in a small town that makes it all possible she says.
“People in small towns all know each other, care about each other and help each other,” says Maha. “It’s completely different than living in the city. I can build real relationships with my customers.”
Getting to know customers’ medical history, work pressures, family dynamics, etc, allows her to give more thoughtful and specialized pharmaceutical care and advice. The result is an epically loyal customer base, a successful business model, and a community that embraces and respects Maha, her family, and her pharmaceutical team. Maha is also setting an example for her teenaged son and daughter (currently considering her post-secondary education options), that they can do anything they put their minds to.
“I’m so proud of my Mom,” says Maya, Maha’s daughter. “Because she sacrificed everything for us and made a better life for us.
If you’re dreaming of leaving the city, too, be sure to check out our other blog posts profiling the growing number of people choosing to live their dreams in Hastings County. And if you’re a new Canadian thinking of choosing rural or small-town living, visit ILeftthecity.ca for resources and information about settling in beautiful Hastings County.
Nickle’s Pharmacy is located at 26 Forsyth St, in Marmora, Ontario, and open Monday – Saturday.