New Owner of San Ysidro Pharmacy
Wayne Siemens and his wife, Sharol, have been customers of Montecito’s iconic San Ysidro Pharmacy for the past 35 years. When he was younger, Siemens and as many as eight of his tennis pals, known as the “Pharmacy Boys,” would drop by, dripping wet, after their morning games to eat at the adjacent Montecito Coffee Shop. “That’s where we’d congregate for breakfast, six days a week,” Siemens recalled. “Everybody loved having meals there.” Pancakes with bacon and eggs was a staple menu item. “Then, we’d go next door and pick up our prescriptions and sundries.”
The spot at 1498 East Valley Road in the Upper Village was a frequent gathering place for all kinds of locals, from movie actors to building contractors. Flash forward to February 2020, when Siemens received a telephone call informing him that the pharmacy was available for sale. As a longtime customer of the pharmacy, Siemens set about trying to secure financing that might help keep the establishment in local hands. The previous owner, Steve Hoyt, was intent on preventing the village shop from being swallowed by a big chain – or worse, from disappearing altogether. “I’ll be darned if I know who first asked me to be the facilitator in this thing,” Siemens said in a March 8 interview with the Montecito Journal. Suffice it to say that he was eager to help. “I sent fifty letters to interested Montecito folks about the need to save our iconic funky little pharmacy,” he said. After the email blast, the first angel financier, Leslie Ridley-Tree, called Siemens and told him she would provide whatever cash he needed for the deal. Next, Siemens spoke to Palmer Jackson Sr. “He felt that it was such a great cause. He told me that the pharmacy had helped us for so many years that he’d help it in any way he could.” Both, said Siemens, shared equally in the total amount required to fund the pharmacy under a new ownership plan. The only obstacle was clearing the stringent standards set by the California Board of Pharmacy, which due to COVID-19 had imposed an even longer vetting process than usual.
Sacramento wrapped up its approval process last month; after seven long months, the sale finally cleared escrow and Lara Edington-Hove became the new owner. She has been the bookkeeper/controller for San Ysidro Pharmacy for over 20 years. It was important to Edington-Hove for the pharmacy to continue to serve the community and also to preserve the livelihood of the staff and their families. “We have been together a long time and I wanted to be sure we would continue to do so,” said Edington-Hove.
According to Edington-Hove, Pharmacists Andrea Dominic, RPh and Scarlett Eckert, Pharm.D. and the entire staff will remain and ensure the store’s future success. “This pharmacy has always stood by the community,” said Siemens, “but now it can continue to do so with the same wonderful staff who are experts in the workings of the pharmacy.” The San Ysidro shop first opened its doors in 1954. Dominic said she has worked at the pharmacy for over 20 years. She still remembers Siemens from his old-school, post-tennis-game breakfast days. “Wayne and his cronies have been customers of ours for as long as I’ve been here,” she said. Among the things that makes the San Ysidro Pharmacy unique among pharmacies is the fact that it compounds prescription medications to meet each patient’s special needs. “Just about no other pharmacy in town actually does this,” Dominic explained. “It’s a unique service that we are happy to be able to provide to the community.”
The pharmacy also stocks an eclectic collection of beloved boutique products curated by store manager Nicole Rayner. You can find everything from Icelandic volcanic ash soap and other sundry Scandinavian-sourced beauty products, to Italian manufactured Marvis brand toothpaste, an old-fashioned item that helps give the shop the feel of a 19th century health emporium. According to Siemens, Edington-Hove, Dominic, and the entire staff prove to be the key to not only maintaining the pharmacy’s strong relationships with customers – but also continuing the business’ seven-decades-long presence at 1498 East Valley Road in the Upper Village. The staff’s knowledge and experience are pivotal to the continued success of the pharmacy. “Edington-Hove really handled the business end of the sale, and that is what made it certain that we’d win the approval,” Siemens said. “We all worked hard at it, but it went in a straight line and was marvelously done.”