Good times, noodle salad. As we approach Spring, we begin to think about the warm glow of the summer sun and what adventures we shall seek. Oh, and noodle salad at a BBQ.
For Steven Hui, his good times are fast approaching as he has officially sold Pharmasave and has retired. Hui worked at Donaldson’s Drugs in 1984 only to purchase it from Murty in 1987 and turn it onto the empire we know today. Many of the long standing locals of Revelstoke recall it as Donaldson’s and may even refer to it as that today (old habits die hard.)
The location of Donaldson’s (Which was changed to Pharmasave one year after Hui took over) was where Kidz on Main and the Revelstoke Florist shops are today. The wall between the two enterprises did not exist and Hui had roughly 2,700 square feet of pharmacy to cover the community. While this location was convenient for those that were shopping in the downtown core, even as far back as the 90s, parking was always a problem.
Rick’s Tempo Station as well as Arlington Courts were up for grabs and Hui took the risk and purchased those properties in order to build a much bigger pharmacy to tend to the growing population. In 2002, Hui opened up the doors to his brand new building that squared off at 10,000 square feet, which was a far cry from the previous 2,700 square feet he was used too.
The new location did come with its headaches and growing pains. Less foot traffic in the beginning and retraining customers as to the new location, as well as changing their patterns and regular routines is always a challenge for any business.
“It was nerve racking. It took time for people to get used to the new location. A lot of folks would walk in (on the Mackenzie property) and buy things in and out throughout the day. This was a big change.”
In the 80s and 90s, the staff rolled in around 11-12. Since that time and with the new location the staff has grown to approximately 33 locals that work alongside Hui. Some of them have been apart of the Pharmasave family since the beginning. Long time local and favourite pharmacist, Hans has been working with Hui for 25 years.
Like everyone, a time comes in ones life to think about the future and what they would like to accomplish and what they see for themselves. For Hui, it was time to hang up the quintessential lab coat, and spend more time with his family and in the community.
“There are multiple factors as to why I sold. Getting into business was easy, hanging on is much harder, you need energy. This is a younger persons game with a long term vision. My long term vision was the next year, it was just time.”
Hui has sold Pharmasave to a trio of Egyptian investors, 2 of which are located in Toronto while the third will be managing the store locally. The local man on campus will be Remon Saad who is based in Airdrie, Alberta. With new changes come a few growing pains but in time a plan will always be set in motion for the growth of the store.
Hui’s experience over the years is the very same advice he has given the new owners.
“Look after your people and staff; you in turn, are looked after. Walk in here with your work cloths on. It’s not Ontario or Calgary. It’s not how much you know, it’s how much you care.”
Letting go of a business can be hard for anyone who built it from the ground up, employed locals and helped them with gainful employment and watch them grow and raise families, this was a difficult choice for Hui.
“It’s the same feeling as raising a child and that child finally moving away. It’s a game changer.”
Hui was very thankful for all the customers over the years as well as his staff. He recognizes that this change has affected those closest to him at work, and he is very conscience of that. He appreciates that he has seen three generations of families come into his store and it has been an overwhelming labour of love.
Hui plans to stay in the community. Rumorstoke had pumped out a few cycles of Hui leaving, but he confirmed with the Revelstoke Current that is far from the truth. His intentions are to do some gardening, get back into the community events like he used too before work dominated his time. 30 years ago, Hui went on a trip to Italy, and now it is on his list to do again.
“Pre-trip 30 years ago, post trip 30 years later!”
Behind any good business person is usually a significant other. For Hui, it is Dorothy. Finally, Hui is planning on fulfilling a promise he made to his wife over 25 years ago; he will be painting the baseboards in the house now that he is retired.
Hui will be helping with the transition, and his final day of assistance will be April 30th, 2018.