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VOL. 123 | NO. 249 | Monday, December 22, 2008

Taylor Brown Apothecary Serves Downtown Community

By Tom Wilemon

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COMMUNITY PHARMACY: Ivory Taylor owns Taylor Brown Apothecary with his wife, Joyce Taylor. -- PHOTO BY TOM WILEMON
“There is a need for us. Downtown is growing.”
– Ivory Taylor
Co-owner, Taylor Brown Apothecary

The old church pews inside Taylor Brown Apothecary provide a clue to the purpose behind the business.

“I’m trying to give a new store an old look,” said owner Ivory Taylor.

He and his wife, Joyce Taylor, want their drug store at 568 Poplar Ave. to follow the tradition of independently owned pharmacies by being a positive influence for the communities they serve.

Their goals are to spend enough quality time with customers to help them make healthy lifestyle choices, foster a sense of neighborhood wellbeing and promote positive development.

Filling a need

Ivory Taylor, a retired master sergeant in the U.S. Army with three graduate degrees, including a doctorate, and Joyce Taylor, who has a doctor of pharmacy degree, opened the apothecary four years ago.

He’s the outgoing face of the business. She’s the behind-the-scenes brain of the business.

Joyce Taylor shies from the spotlight, preferring to stay in the pharmacy or compounding laboratory where she creates the drug store’s own line of skin care products. She leaves the talking and the networking to her husband.

Her maiden name, Brown, is along side her married name on the business’ sign.

“There is a need for us,” Ivory Taylor said. “Downtown is growing. At the same time, there was no independent, community drug store Downtown. We saw it as an opportunity for a small independent drug store to get into the game.”

In an area where some people saw a declining neighborhood, the Taylors saw a community that will benefit from the expanding Memphis Medical Center. They built an 8,300-square-foot structure that fronts Poplar but opens up to neighborhoods on the north side of the busy thoroughfare.

The city does not allow side street parking for newly built businesses on Poplar, so the Taylors put in a large parking lot on the back side of the business.

Next year, they plan to convert part of their space into a dollar store.

“There are no grocery stores down here,” Ivory Taylor said. “We can take that niche so people can pick up washing powder and other things. We hope to have that in place by January or February.”

Personal touch

Taylor Brown Apothecary competes with retail drug stores by providing personal service.

“We make sure that there’s an understanding between us, the client, the insurance and the doctor,” Taylor said. “We will call your doctor and ask him if you can’t afford this medicine because of insurance and ask if you can get medicine A instead of medicine B, C or D.”

Navigating the health care system is confusing for most folks, he said.

“The pharmacy is the last stop,” Taylor said. “A lot of time the pharmacist is who the patient sees. Independent drug stores are able to be that last mark for that individual person.”

An important element to the business is the Taylor Brown Apothecary skin care line, which includes bubble bath, foot soak, body and hand lotion, body butter polish and exfoliating gel.

“She’s working on a wrinkle cream,” Taylor said of his wife. “Her background is in chemistry.”

The Taylors moved to the Memphis area in 1997 after he retired from the U.S. Army. Ivory Taylor is originally from Tallahassee, Fla., and Joyce Taylor is originally from Clarksdale, Miss.

“To me, Memphis is a gold mine,” he said. “You have air. You have water. You have highways. You have rail. Also, you have Fortune 500 companies headquartered here. They give a lot of potential for growth.”

However, Memphis in many ways is not like a metropolitan city, he said.

“I think she’s a rural growing city because she’s bounding Mississippi and Arkansas, which are two rural states,” Taylor said.

‘Providing hope’

Although their business is only four years old, the couple is already investing back in the community. They have bought 50 lots in a neighborhood on the south side of Downtown near the intersection of Third Street and McLemore Avenue.

The couple also own the development firm Taylor Brown Garden LLC. They are building homes that meet code requirements of the Tennessee Department of Children Services. The community is intended for families who have children with mental disabilities.

“We have five homes built right now,” Taylor said. “We have a capital campaign now. The goal is to turn it into a health care community. It’s a very depressed neighborhood. I think that when we invest in depressed neighborhoods it does a whole lot of things. It beautifies the city. It provides jobs. Also, it provides hope.”

PROPERTY SALES 91 91 21,363
MORTGAGES 63 63 16,257
BUILDING PERMITS 166 167 42,087
BANKRUPTCIES 34 40 6,619