Sandeep Gill graduated from Ceres High School in 2004, left town to further education and decided to become a pharmacist rather than go to medical school. He has returned to Ceres to open an independent drug store in a smaller shopping center with his business-minded bride of two years, Simrin Gill.
Gill, 29, studied at Modesto Junior College and earned his bachelor's degree from Cal Stanislaus State before going to pharmacy school at Touro University in Vallejo. Sandeep worked six months as a pharmacy intern at CVS Pharmacy before filling prescriptions at a Walgreen's for 10 months. He quit on June 22 to prepare Gill Pharmacy at the Taylor Shopping Center, 2600 Mitchell Road, Suite G, Ceres.
Ceres made sense for his business location because he still has family here.
"I have my grandparents who still live with us and I used to pick up their medications at Walgreen's and we were so upset with them then we switched to CVS then we switched to Rite Aid," said Gill. "I realized there's no real solution. Sometimes it's their attitude. They don't realize that the person is a person."
Gill said he can fill prescriptions faster than chain pharmacies, usually in an average of 10 minutes.
"So far the number of unsatisfied customers who've taken their prescriptions transferred out from here is zero," said Gill.
Since opening the pharmacy on Oct. 15, the Gills have attracted a customer base of about 250.
"That's really good for two months," he commented.
The Gills are attracting a lot of business from Punjabi residents living in the Ceres area. The location made sense because an Indian food store is located doors down and a large number of Indian immigrants live in nearby Eastgate, he said.
"We try to take every insurance but then there's some insurances that are making us wait to get us on the contract. For example, Caremark. We call and leave them a message every single day. They call back every two weeks and tell you ‘you're really close and will be on the program pretty soon.'"
He's still filling prescriptions for Caremark patients but not yet getting paid from them.
"Some customers are saying they'll pay us cash just in case this doesn't go through," said Simrin.
The Gills are hoping their 1700-square-foot pharmacy fills the niche with an extensive stock of organic supplements.
"We don't really have an organic store in Ceres," said Simrin. "They have a lot of them in Modesto. Slowly we'll be adding more products."
The store is stocked with health-related products such as vitamins, nutritional supplements, ointments, bandages, and other over the counter pharmaceuticals.
The Gills literally built the store from the ground up over a four month period as they wait for the pharmacy license. They built a number of counters themselves and picked up store shelves from CVS that closed in Oakland.
"We ripped that CVS apart and brought everything here, including these counters."
Gill Pharmacy is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The phone is 537-4455. They have a website at gillpharmacy.com.