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BJ’s Family Pharmacy Proving - There Is Still a Place for Independent Pharmacies

BJ and Jennifer Cougle, BJ’s Family Pharmacy in Starkville, Miss.

BJ’s Family Pharmacy Proving - There Is Still a Place for Independent Pharmacies

With the prevalence of chain pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid in most cities, it might seem like the days of the independent, locally owed pharmacy are a thing of the past. But don’t tell this to BJ and Jennifer Cougle, the owners of BJ’s Family Pharmacy in Starkville, Miss.


Licensed pharmacists BJ and Jennifer opened their pharmacy in early 2013 after spending the early part of their careers working for one of the chain pharmacies (BJ) and the Mississippi State University student health center (Jennifer). According to BJ, opening their own independent pharmacy wasn’t something they originally planned on doing.


Filling a Niche


“We were both happy in our jobs and were starting our family with two small children at the time,” he says. “But when the only independent, locally owned pharmacy in town closed, this created a vacuum that we saw an opportunity to fill. The opportunity was just too good and we decided if we didn’t open our own pharmacy then, we might never do it.”


One of their first challenges was finding the right location. BJ says they looked at potential buildings all over town before settling on a 103-year-old former train depot right in the heart of Starkville’s historic district. “It was one of the few locations where we could build a drive-thru, which you can’t operate a pharmacy without,” says BJ.


“There were some challenges in converting the building into a pharmacy, but this has turned out to be the perfect spot for us,” he adds. “The historic building adds to the feeling of walking into a locally owned pharmacy where the owners know your name.”


Being Approachable and Friendly


Knowing all their customers by name is part of the exceptional level of service that BJ and Jennifer provide. “We figured out early on that this is the only way we can compete against the big chains,” says BJ. “Jennifer and I try to be as approachable and friendly as we can — for example, none of our staff wears white coats because we don’t want to look intimidating to customers.”


“We had no idea you could build a business around simply treating people the way they want to be treated,” he adds. “We’re usually very competitive with the chains on price, but even when we aren’t, many customers will pay a little bit more to shop here because of the service we deliver.”


For example, when you call BJ’s Family Pharmacy, you won’t get a voice mail tree with options to push 1, 2 or 3. “Someone will always answer the phone when you call here,” says BJ. “We figure people are calling for a reason, so we will never have a voice mail tree.”


BJ and Jennifer have been “blown away” by the way the Starkville community has embraced them. “We can’t believe how much we’ve become a part of the community,” he says. “We’re committed to Starkville for the long term.”


Switching to Cadence Bank


BJ and Jennifer approached Cadence Bank a couple of years ago when they needed to refinance a business loan in order to obtain a mortgage to buy a new personal residence. “We were immediately struck by Cadence Bank’s relationship approach to doing business,” says BJ, “because that’s the same approach we take with our customers.”


They soon moved all of their business accounts to Cadence Bank. “I love the Cadence Bank mobile phone app, and Cadence online banking is also a big plus,” says BJ. “Our Cadence banker is easy to reach whenever we have questions or need anything.”


“We have the same kind of relationship with Cadence Bank that our customers have with us,” he adds. “They’ve been behind us every step of the way.”


BJ’s Family Pharmacy is located at 223 South Jackson Street in Starkville, Miss.


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