Customers of the Hollywood District’s longest continuously operating business have smiled over the past month, getting their first look at the result Paulsen’s Pharmacy owner Gary Balo characterized as “an offer I couldn’t pass up.”
The proposal came from the 3,500-store Good Neighbor Pharmacy network to completely transform the store in 48 hours at no expense to Paulsen’s as a demonstration project. Paulsen’s was one of three drug stores selected in the nation – the other two are in Alabama and New York.
Balo beamed over the pharmacy’s new look, including repainting, floor fixtures, fluorescent lighting, stripping old wax from the original tile floor thus preserving a traditional look, and a new marble counter top for the old-fashioned soda fountain. Balo said the new floor fixtures provide four-sided shelving and a lower profile, giving the place a more open look. “How open and full of light the store is now,” one customer noted.
Good Neighbor contractors and artisans surprised Balo with many “antiques” from the store’s basement, some of which Balo didn’t know were there, that are now displayed in the store windows and inside the store. Balo said the overhaul will be chronicled in a video to be shown at a Las Vegas trade show later this summer.
Balo is only the fourth Paulsen’s proprietor in its 94-year Hollywood history, and the building predates the pharmacy, serving before 1918 as a real estate office where construction and sale of residential homes and businesses were coordinated. It was in 1918 that a Mr. Nichols opened the pharmacy.
Charles Paulsen came to work as a pharmacist in 1923 and, in 1940, partnered with James Mead. Paulsen retired in 1960, and Balo came aboard as a pharmacist, eventually partnering with Mead in 1970 until 1988 when Mead retired. Charles Paulsen and Harold Kelly co-founded the Hollywood Boosters, according to Balo.
Paulsen’s also provides copying and fax services, and when customers have to wait for a prescription to be filled, offers a cup of coffee at the soda fountain. Automatic prescription refills are available on the phone, and Paulsen’s delivers prescriptions locally. Balo said that Paulsen’s still compounds prescriptions, fills them from scratch and also handles veterinarian requests for smaller or larger medicines doses for pets or farm animals.
Balo aims to improve customer service with strategies such as helping customers organize prescriptions into monthly purchases made all at one time. Balo is planning a number of June activities that are listed in a Hollywood Star News ad.