RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Among the hustle and bustle of Dr. Shantelle Brown’s workday, you can find a hand-made drawing from her kids posted next to the front window.
The artwork is a constant reminder for the owner and operator of Hope Pharmacy that she’s back at home serving her community.
“I spent a lot of time in Church Hill because the church I attended is caddy-cornered to the grocery store,” Dr. Brown said. “I had family. My aunts were here in the area. So, Church Hill was a normal part of my life.”
Dr. Brown was born and raised in Henrico County and is an alumna of Howard University. She said she always knew she wanted to settle back in the Richmond area.
Her first job was with Dr. Leonard Edloe at Edloe’s Professional Pharmacies in Church Hill.
“Throughout the summers and vacations – whether it was Christmas – I would come home and work for him during that time,” she explained. “It was already set up for me to come home and help right here in the community.”
She then secured a job at Ukrop’s before working at Sam’s Club until 2018.
At the beginning of 2018, Brown explained that Sam’s Club closed ten percent of its stores forcing her to take a different route. She decided to turn her efforts towards the Church Hill community.
“The community said they wanted fresh seafood and a pharmacy,” she explained. “I couldn’t give them the fresh seafood, but I could definitely work on getting them a pharmacy.”
She decided to take the challenge head-on but explains there were many roadblocks to opening pharmacy doors.
“As an African American female, some of the challenges definitely came on with financing,” she said. “Finding an institution that would support us. It’s hard as an African American female – one. And then in the area we were serving – we were redlined. We were told this area would not produce the amount of money and funding to pay back any loans that we would take out.”
Dr. Brown said she was denied by three different institutions before successfully securing a loan.
TAKE A LISTEN: Dr. Brown talks about the challenges she endured to open Hope Pharmacy
Hope Pharmacy officially opened its doors in April 2019, making Brown became the only African American woman in the City of Richmond to own and operate an independent pharmacy.
“Every independent pharmacy has their own niche,” she said. “We, here, are in this community to bring awareness, bring education – things that haven’t been here. We’re not just here for one demographic – we’re here for all.”
Dr. Brown says Church Hill has seen a lot of changes, and she hopes to bridge the gap between generations.
“The support from the community has been great,” she said. “They know what we’re trying to do for those in need. We have a lot of support. We may have about 50/50 as it relates to the old and new in this community.”
She says, though, her work is far from over.
“I believe that this community – they need and want hope. I’m happy to be here – praying we be here for many, many more years.”
To learn more about Hope Pharmacy, click here.