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Small pharmacy a big success

Natacha Augustin and her husband Patrick have owned the small neighborhood drugstore on 111-12 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica for six years. It was an opportunity they attained through community leader Rev. Floyd Flake, a former congressman and senior pastor of the Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Augustins met Flake at the church.When the nearby Medisys St. Albans Family Care Center moved to the next property down, it allowed for the Augustins business to take root. Natacha Augustin credits Flake for the pharmacy's growth."Rev. Flake has a wonderful book called 'The Way of the Bootstrapper,' which is great for young people who are starting from nothing and want to change their lives," she said.Despite not being as prominent as its larger, franchised competitors, the store takes the time to provide services you can't get anywhere else, Natacha Augustin said. For example, The St. Albans Pharmacy fills every prescription in no more than 15 minutes and even delivers orders to those who have moved out of the community, reaching as far out as Atlanta and Florida."My customers have gone to a big (pharmacy) and have been told a prescription takes two hours to fill. They would come to my place and show the big store that it doesn't take that long," Natacha Augustin said. The drugstore owners also give talks at senior homes and churches in the neighborhood to discuss medications. On the weekends, the pharmacy will even provide personal counseling to those who are unable to attend the group meetings. For those who do not speak English, the store has volunteers to translate into Chinese, Spanish and Creole. With two deliveries of prescriptions coming into the establishment daily, the store is never out of stock for the 100 to 200 customers a day it serves on average, Natacha Augustin said."You want to help (customers) and then hopefully they'll support you," she added.Through her experiences working at large pharmacy chains, Natacha Augustin said she is able to concentrate on what other pharmacies lack."I've worked at a lot of big stores and watched them abuse customers and make a lot of money. I left so I could help people in my community," she said.Natacha Augustin said she hopes the business will stay in the family, noting that Patrick Jr. has taken an interest in following in his parent's footsteps one day after he attends college. She will be depending on him until that happens."He's thinking of going to St. John's, so hopefully I'll have some help," Natacha Augustin said.She said she is looking to relocate the business to nearby 110th Avenue and Merrick Boulevard in the next year and a half."We would be able to do more things for the community. We're looking forward to expanding the business and we're thankful to Rev. Flake for being very supportive of the business."

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