Donna Pearman, President of People’s, was the visionary who managed to turn her ideas and passion into the business you see today. During her tenure as Chief Pharmacist at Hamilton Pharmacy, her interest in the business of retail pharmacy, the encouragement from customers to open her own business and the challenge of operating a business inspired Ms. Pearman to end her 10 year career and begin scouting possible locations for her own retail pharmacy.
Ms. Pearman had begun planning for the establishment of her own retail business as early as 1976 and had settled on the name “People’s Pharmacy”. This name was derived from an eight year observation of the several factors at play in business at that time; the most remarkable being the treatment of customers, observed by Ms. Pearman, as she had begun her retail career at the impressionable age of 16, working as a Pharmacy Technician. She wanted a pharmacy that would make everyone – regardless of ethnicity – feel welcome. It was commonly felt in 1984 that people of other races did not traditionally support black owned businesses and she wanted to shatter this perceived ceiling to success in business. It was on October 31st, 1984 that the doors of “People’s Pharmacy” opened to service the People, the entire community.
With the general negative attitude which had previously existed towards businesses owned by people of African descent, People’s had to be innovative to command a significant share of the market. With this in mind, it was decided to offer two important features which were not in existence then; The Pharmacy would be the first in Bermuda to offer a fully computerized dispensing package and the first to open all day Sundays.
The Pharmacy opened with 5 full-time staff: Ms. Pearman, her father, Norris Pearman, and cousin, Aleathea (Pearman) Rabain, were the core of the business at its inception and are still involved on some level. Whilst Ms. Pearman was busy operating the prescription department, it was Mr. Pearman and Mrs. Rabain who were the winning combination in the front shop. Mr. Pearman had spent 38 years on the US Naval Base as a maintenance supervisor and with his effervescent personality, was an invaluable asset to the business. There was absolutely nothing he would not do for our customers, from collecting out of stock medications, to delivering them at their doorstep. Mr. Pearman was equally generous to the staff: running errands for them or chauffeuring them to appointments.
Mrs. (Pearman) Rabain has a history of working in retail that spans decades. She had been with Hamilton Pharmacy for 12 years before deciding to join her family at People’s. She brought with her a knowledge of front shop medicines and beauty products which was invaluable. In fact, she was the buyer for all of the front shop products until she was joined by Tamara Richardson in 2000. Apart from her retail buying skills, Mrs. Rabain’s customer service skills are to be envied by all. Today, she works part-time and is revered and respected by all at People’s as our “Public Service Representative”.
The shop originally started with 900 square feet of rented space, which included the dispensary, the shop floor, a storeroom, an office and a toilet. People’s sold health and beauty products, candy, small toys and cards in addition to our primary business of dispensing prescriptions.
Some major accomplishments of our history include:
1988, People’s Pharmacy Limited purchased the building housing the business on 62 Victoria Street, Hamilton, Bermuda.
1990, the Pharmacy was expanded to 2,500 square feet which included a purpose built warehouse, additional retail space, more office space, as well as a toilet and shower facility. The People’s Pharmacy team grew to include three full time pharmacists, an office manager and two floor staff.
1992, People’s had the opportunity to buy the adjacent property and was able to level the building to create more space for customer parking.
1993, People’s began selling large toys in response to requests from their loyal customers. Toys have now grown to be a major part of the business.
1998, the Pharmacy was expanded to take over the upper level of the building; this increased the warehouse space as well as retail area for customers. The front shop was expanded to 3,200 square feet, warehouse to over 1,300 square feet, additional office space, an elevator and lunchroom for staff in addition to 32 bays for customers and staff parking.
2000, a third generation, Tamara Richardson, joined the business full-time, as a buyer.
2001, the inventory system was computerized to include accounting and POS management which integrated to the cash registers and introduced scanning of items.
2004, People’s with 26 full time staff - including four full time and two part time pharmacists - eight part time staff and a number of seasonal staff celebrated its 20th Anniversary. We also completed a major expansion which saw the retail space increase to 5,000 square feet.
2005, CURE presented People’s with the Excellence in Equality of Opportunity Award for Equality of Opportunity – Employee’s Choice and the Consumer Affairs, Bermuda presented People’s with a Certificate of Nomination for being nominated for the Exceptional Customer Service Business Awards. People’s has also been awarded for being one of the Top 10 Businesses in Bermuda.
2006, a fire devastated the Gray’s Inn Building which occupied the land between Church Street and the existing People’s parking lot. The building was co-owned by People’s Pharmacy. This loss resulted in the creation of additional parking for our customers as well as a holding area for containers.
2008, we have much to be proud of. Most importantly, we have won “Best of Bermuda” award for 11 consecutive years from 2000 – 2010. The honour was bestowed on us again in 2012, and subsequently again in 2013, consecutively to 2016. It is no coincidence that Tamara Richardson, Vice President of Sales & Operations/Buyer, began working full-time for the Pharmacy, having always worked part-time on her holidays from school. Her buying skills, business acumen, attention to detail and most importantly, her passion for People’s, is exemplified throughout the shop. Nowhere is it more evident than in our new Toy/Baby Department, appropriately named “Little People’s Toys”, where we have won “Best of Bermuda” for Best Toy Shop for its 10-years of existence. 2009 saw the addition of a new award to our Best of Bermuda repertoire, namely Best Hair Accessories and in 2015 the newest addition to Best of Bermuda was the award for Best Baby Gear. 2016 was a milestone year with the announcement of People’s winning the "Award of Excellence" for three categories – namely the Best Pharmacy, Best Toy Shop and the Best Overall in the category of Shopping & Services.
On June 13th 2011, we lost the Patriarch and Vice President of our Family, Mr. Norris S. Pearman. Although this was a truly heartbreaking occasion for us, Mr. Pearman has left us with innumerable memories to recount – such as his humor, kindness, mentorship, exemplary work ethic, interaction with employees and customers. Mr. Pearman was highly respected and typified the heart of our Company Values and Mission Statement.
In February 2014, Little People’s Toys expanded to a larger facility in the Andrew’s Place on Church Street. April 6th 2015, construction commenced to erect a link, joining the two buildings together to allow easy access from one Department to the other thereby improving the service to customers.
The occurrences above emphasize some of People’s highlights however, our continual success since 1984, is attributed to putting family first.
For over 30 years, our family business has been dedicated to providing the best for you and your family. From baby care, kids toys and natural products to pharmacy services, beauty, senior living equipment and everything in between… we’re here for you.