While many people are aware of Serge and Norma’s altruism, what most are unaware of is that Serge personally delivers prescriptions and medications to elderly people in his community, many of whom have mobility issues and cannot get to his store. Serge lights up when talking about these people. “I’ve been delivering to Margaret, who is now 92, for 7 years now. Sometimes I also go shopping for her and pick up groceries as well." Serge gets emotional when talking about another senior he has been delivering to for a long time. “He confided in me that he just found out he has cancer, and that affected me deeply. I gave him a hug when I left. You get to know them on a personal level and that’s been an honour. It’s been transformative for me, especially coming from a banking background.”
What is evident is that Serge is passionate about his family and helping his community! He explains, “we are the first line of care at the pharmacy and we want our customers to know that we are there for you--we are a part of your health care team.” With Serge and his team of pharmacists, it’s clear that people’s health care comes first.
Serge clearly loves living in Kitsilano. “I get goosebumps just thinking about living in Kits. Last night my wife and I went to Browns Social House for dinner and then took a walk down to the beach! We also love Baru, just down the street! There is something so special about the geography here. Being so close to the ocean, there is an energy -- a vitality.”
What’s clear about Serge is that he loves people, which is why he loves living in the neighbourhood. It’s a little “Leave it to Beaver” here, which I love! I can walk my son to school, and on the way there, everyone says hello. It’s really like living in a small town in the middle of a city. My wife, Norma, is the head of our son’s school’s PAC, and she’s helped raise thousands of dollars so that their teachers and kids can have better resources. We love giving back to this community--it’s a big part of what we’re all about.”
We are sitting in Serge’s living room in the heart of Kitsilano, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee hanging in the air, and the disembodied sound of squawking from what can only be some type of feathered creature. Biln doesn’t need to tell you he’s a family man, as school textbooks and what turns out to be his daughter’s beloved budgies give that away easily.
It’s clear that he’s a devoted family man, as the first thing he talks about is his children and his wife, Norma, of 19 years. “They’re who I live and die for,” he states, matter-of-factly.
It’s singularly important to Serge that his pharmacists are personable and appreciate building relationships with their patients and customers. “I see our pharmacists helping people every day with such empathy and care, connecting with their patients. In this high-touch, health care field, building relationships is key. That’s what I look for when hiring. ”
One of the advantages of owning 6 stores is that Serge’s pharmacists are able to interact with each other on a daily basis. “My pharmacists talk every day on a group chat app--they reach out to their peers and help each other, building knowledge and expertise. This doesn’t happen in the bigger box-type stores where the pharmacists are more siloed. We're a real team here.”
However, for Biln, getting from there to here was a journey. Born and bred in Vancouver, he grew up on Vancouver’s East Side, in a single-parent family. After considering law for a time, he decided to go to school for accounting and worked as a commercial banker for 20 years before making the transition to pharmacy owner. “I was lending people money for their businesses and realized I wanted to be on the other side of the table. I love people and not being tethered to a desk, so it was a natural change for me.”
It’s been 12 years and 6 pharmacies later, and Serge has not looked back. He has, however, evolved as he’s moved forward in his journey in the healthcare field. Biln explains, “the health care aspect of this business was a life changer for me. I’ve been on the corporate side and they aren’t set up for compassion or empathy. But as a smaller independent business, we are people-centred, and it’s changed me -- I’ve become more caring, and empathetic. We’re about people more than just money. This is where you affect people, and seniors, who are often an overlooked group and can fall through the cracks of society. This was a new reality for me."
June 28, 2017 | Pharmasave Kitsilano
Visit your neighbourhood Pharmasave Kitsilano today! We are more than just a pharmacy!
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday: 9:30am - 6:30pm
Saturday: 10:00am - 6:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm