Rapid rise to success

3 minutes read
Posted 21 June, 2024
Clare right and husband JP outside their new Jacks Point Pharmacy copy

Clare, right, and husband JP outside their new Jack’s Point Pharmacy

When at 24, Brit, Clare Arrowsmith set off with a round the world ticket on her OE fresh out of Pharmacy School, never in her wildest imaginings did she expect to own a pharmacy on the other side of the world and marry a Kiwi guy who jumped out of planes for a living.

“I walked into Wilkinson’s Pharmacy in Queenstown in late 2005 and got a job straight away as they were opening another pharmacy at Remarkables Park,” says Clare. That’s now one of two pharmacies she and husband JP (John-Paul) own, the second having just opened at Jack’s Point.

She was the first non-owner pharmacist employed at Remarkables Park Pharmacy. “I worked three days a week and skied four days, enjoying the Queenstown life.”

She’s been doing that for 19 years now, after meeting NZONE Skydive jumpmaster JP at Queenstown Baptist Church about 18 months after that initial job in town. “I worked for a year before doing another six months travel.” She returned to Remarkables and Wilkinson’s pharmacies and once she and JP married they spent some time back in the UK where the first of their two daughters was born.

Unbeknown to Clare, Remarkables co-owner Glenn Mitchell had been hoping she would buy into the business. “When we arrived back in early 2014, I was pregnant with our second daughter and had a baby in my arms when Glenn asked if we wanted to buy in,” Clare smiles. “I didn’t think I’d have what it takes, but I had huge support from JP, Glenn and his wife, Tiffany, which gave me confidence,” she says. “Sometimes an opportunity presents itself and you’ve just got to get stuck in, even if the timing’s not quite right.” It was a huge learning curve, and incurred massive debt, but thankfully Clare’s precious Nan back in the UK had left her a house deposit to borrow against at just the right time.

“When we first came to Queenstown I had just a backpack to my name and JP lived in his van,” she says. “We always ride through it together.” This was no more true than when Covid hit, just a few months after they’d bought Remarkables Pharmacy outright.

Every good woman needs a good man and fortunately JP can put his hand to anything. He quit as manager of JUCY Cruise and came to work in the business. “He’s very personable, a retail manager type of guy.” Clare’s taught him everything she’d learnt and they now share all aspects of the business. “We’re both good communicators. We’re in it together through thick and thin. We just make it work.”

Their team of 17 is largely female, with JP and locally raised pharmacist Cohen Nash among just four males. “We’ve got a great team. We get lots of feedback about how friendly and welcoming we are. That comes from the top down. We believe in being there to support our staff and customers. We all like to go the extra mile.”

As a pharmacist, being a mum brings great insight with their 11 and 9-year-old daughters on “product taste control”.

There’s a stark difference between how business was done in her early days in Queenstown and now. “Pharmacists are much more involved in patient care now.”

Strong retail turnover is essential to make a pharmacy work and Clare’s always enjoyed sourcing the best and newest innovations and products. “I enjoy that the most. It’s in my blood. Mum’s uncle owned supermarkets in the UK.”

Her business is about stocking what the customers want, and in the case of the Arrowsmith’s second pharmacy that’s just launched next to the medical centre and nursery at Jack’s Point, that’s meant becoming a mini dairy too.

“We’re selling bread, eggs and milk and a few other household cleaning things, along with our usual healthy snacks and protein bars, as our customers have been asking for it,” Clare says. “We want people to know that we can sell anything we sell at the Remarkables Park pharmacy and that they can talk to us if they want a particular product.”

So far there’s been a “lovely, overwhelming response” to their new weekday pharmacy.

It was a bold business step, but one Clare says felt absolutely right at every step. “We’re perfectly positioned here for future growth.”

A warm smile in the dispensary Clare Arrowsmith

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