Prescription for Success: Longtime Detroit pharmacy has defied many odds

Prescription for Success: Longtime Detroit pharmacy has defied many odds

As a neighborhood pharmacist, Marilyn Nash Yazbeck has primarily served the same residents since she opened Nottingham Pharmacy on East Warren nearly a quarter of a century ago.

She has what all successful businesses must have – customer loyalty. That’s a bonus of operating independently, she says.

Within the area of Nottingham Pharmacy are several other businesses, including national chains, which also offer pharmaceutical service. Despite the nearby location of larger companies that target her clientele, Yazbeck says she has never worried about competitors due to her store’s customer focus. Her business deals only with writing prescriptions and working with insurance companies, unlike pharmacies that sell other products, such as snack foods.

Nottingham Pharmacy is one of Detroit’s “stay-ups,” having clocked nearly 25 years of operation.

Nottingham is within walking distance for many residents so they don’t have to seek out the nearest major drugstore chains when they need a prescription filled. At Nottingham that’s done by Yazbeck, who calls herself a “drug expert,” a person they know and who knows them and how medicines affect them.

“I understand the business of competition, but that didn’t really hurt me when I first opened up, because it’s like anything else,” she says. “You have your loyal customers then you have folks who may go to the store to buy other things. The only things I have in here are prescription items. I’m really a professional pharmacy. Everything is over the counter.”

Despite competition from much larger, more visible industry peers, she says there are enough customers to maintain her business and for the chains to maintain theirs.

Yazbeck opened Nottingham Pharmacy at 15800 E. Warren in 1993 after buying a building from a previous pharmaceutical company.  

“If you’re going to be in the business you look at what’s in the area – what’s for sale,” she says. “And I did not want to work for a chain. I wanted to work for myself.”

Born and raised in Detroit, she graduated from Wayne State University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and masters in pharmacy in 1987. She worked in both hospital and community pharmacy settings before branching out on her own.

“I love what I do,” Yazbeck says. “I just think that it’s really nice when you have a job you love, and I think my customers here appreciate me.”

Small shops are the mainstay of our neighborhoods. Open the door and look inside and you will discover dreamers and doers who embody the spirit and energy of Detroit’s entrepreneurial class. We invite you to meet them inside our Small Shops series, sponsored by Bank of America.

Editor’s Note: Nottingam Pharmacy is located at 15800 E. Warren Detroit, MI 48224. You can reach them by calling 313-885-3363.

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