In 2024, Edward’s Pharmacy, right in the heart of Centreville at the corner of Commerce and Water Street, will celebrate its 60th year of providing health care services to our community.
Some readers might be surprised to find out there’s been a drug store at that location even longer than that.
J. Thomas Holland operated a home goods business there before the dawn of the 20th century. Dispensing medicine was part of his trade. He started training a young Centreville native and aspiring druggist named J. West Thompson in 1909. Thompson worked at the store for 30 years before buying it from Holland when he retired. Jim ‘Doc’ Edwards purchased the business in 1964. After the devastating downtown fire of 1968, Doc rebuilt and rebranded. The Edwards kept the store in the family until selling it to pharmacist Shalendra Anil Cherukuri in 2007.
Dr. Cherukuri, Anil to friends old and new, earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy at India’s Sri Ramachandra Harvard Medical International and his master’s degree in the U.S. Active in various professional pharmaceutical associations and nonprofits, Anil also owns several other pharmacies, of which he considers his Centreville location a model store – particularly with regards to customer service. He says, “I want all my pharmacies to provide the level of engagement, the Eastern Shore style of interacting, that the staff at Edward’s has.”
Some folks on that staff have been there for more than 20 years. QACTV personality Mandy Leager is one of them. Hired in 2000 right out of Queen Anne’s County High School, Mandy has done a little bit of everything at Edward’s from the one hour photo and passport duties to delivering prescriptions “from the Bay Bridge to Rock Hall.” She says the type of service Anil refers to comes from striving to “build relationships, build trust. We work hard to really know our customers and what they need.”
Anil agrees a key factor in the long standing good reputation of Edward’s Pharmacy is loyalty, the loyalty he gets from his staff, the loyalty the staff provides their customers, and the loyalty their customers have for Edward’s. He says, “We have customers who drive from Kent Island, from across the Bay Bridge, who pass by seven or eight pharmacies to come to Edward’s. Imagine that. There must be a reason. I stress to my team that our job is to make life happier, not more miserable.
“And” Anil continues, “the town is always so supportive. It has been such a great experience in my life. For example, they had to work on the street outside. For two years our customers couldn’t get to our parking lot. But they didn’t abandon us for an inconvenience. In Centreville it feels like our customers care that we’re here. Our customers show up. They’re there for us. That’s not always the same everywhere else.
“So you have to do what you can to give back. To return that loyalty. We try to always support local organizations, charities, churches, schools. We support our community. We want to make a positive difference.”
Combining traditional service standards with modernizing the store’s technology and infrastructure to dispense prescriptions more safely and efficiently is an ongoing goal. To meet those efforts, Edward’s not only provides in-house compounding and lab facilities, but has implemented such services as prescriptions-by-mail and medication synchronization so that all of the customer’s medicines can be renewed on the same day instead of the staggered dates of the original prescriptions. Home healthcare products available include walkers, wheelchairs, recline chairs, shower benches, and a variety of medical supplies. Beds and lifts can be rented.
Part of Mandy Leager’s somewhat ambiguous job description at Edward’s includes stocking the store’s Hallmark Gold Crown Card and Gift Center. Aiming to always offer a selection of carefully curated items to go along with the exclusive Hallmark gifts and cards offered as a Gold Crown store, Mandy says she seeks out merchandise “you can’t find anywhere else. When someone buys something, we want them to remember where they got it.” This would include all kinds of home décor, jewelry, books by local authors, candles, ornaments, celebration balloons, toys and plushies, Queen Anne’s, Maryland, and Chesapeake themed souvenirs, and gear for fans of the Orioles, Ravens, and QACHS Lions. Among the many unique items currently showcased are handcrafted custom collectables from Rowe Pottery and local honey from the Eastern Shore’s own Lazy B Apiary.
Back in the pharmacy, an important part of Anil’s approach to his business is “no finger-pointing.” When it comes to the complexities of working with doctors’ offices and insurances companies and customers who might be in pain or despair, Anil says, “When there are problems, discuss solutions, not what happened. It can be hard for the patient. Their health might be in serious danger. I tell my team, “Treat every person like they’re your mom.”
Mandy provides further insight: “Edward’s fills up to 400 prescriptions a day. We have 17 full time employees. It’s non-stop and a big part of our job involves medicine. That means the pharmacy is responsible for people’s health, their lives. It can be intensely stressful. The hardest part can be dealing with the complicated decisions and situations outside of our control but we always try not to let that affect how we treat our customers.
“Because what they want to know is that we care.”
Edward’s Pharmacy, open Monday-Friday from 8 am to 6 pm and Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm, is an EPIC-affiliated independent pharmacy located at 102 S. Commerce in Centreville. https://www.edwardspharmacy.com
Brent Lewis is a native Chesapeake Bay Eastern Shoreman. He has published two nonfiction books about the region, “Remembering Kent Island: Stories from the Chesapeake” and a “History of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department.” His most recent book, “Stardust By The Bushel: Hollywood On The Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore”won a 2023 Independent Publishers award. His first novel, Bloody Point 1976, won an Honorable Mention Award at the 2015 Hollywood Book Festival. He and his wife Peggy live in Centreville, Maryland.