By Lisa Provence and Samantha Baars
Sure it’s blistering hot, but for three new businesses, July was the perfect time to hang a shingle. One local pharmacist fills a void, an app from a UVA alum serves an untapped market, and a moving company franchise offers help with the heavy stuff.
Meadowbrook begats Top Notch Pharmacy
For those mourning the recently closed Meadowbrook Pharmacy, its former pharmacist has opened her own independent drugstore, and it looks a lot like the old one, albeit with different ownership.
Leah Argie wanted to own her own pharmacy one day, and when she learned this spring that she would be out of a job, that timeline got pushed up a bit.
Last week Top Notch Pharmacy had a soft opening of its Preston Avenue store, which is eerily reminiscent of Meadowbrook, although maybe there are only so many independent drugstore designs.
Argie was considering candles when a reporter walked in, the “fun part” of the job, she says. Like her former place of employment, she wants to sell unusual gifts, like the toddler seersucker bow tie-and-suspenders combo, that you don’t find anywhere else.
Despite another CVS coming in on the Meadowbrook site at the corner of Barracks Road and Emmet Street, Argie thinks there’s room for an independent pharmacy like Top Notch to “fill the specialty niche no one else is doing in Charlottesville,” she says.
That includes making compound medications, such as hormone replacement creams, gluten-free meds or carrying veterinary drugs.
And if you have multiple daily drugs, Top Notch will create blister packs to put all the morning drugs together so it’s easier to take what you need at the right time.
“That’s a service that’s hard to find,” says Argie.
Top Notch will deliver drugs, and there’s one more similarity to Meadowbrook: Argie hired several of the folks who worked there. “People will see some familiar faces,” she says.
An app you’ll want to drink to
A month ago, UVA alumni and CEO of Edge Tech Labs Shaun Masavage broke into a previously untapped market when he launched Happy Hour Hunter, an app designed to help you belly up to the bar without emptying your pockets.
As if you needed to be encouraged to get your drink on, Happy Hour Hunter maps out up-to-date drink specials in the user’s city. It’s one of two uses of an app called DrinkMate, which also functions as a breathalyzer if you buy an additional mouthpiece.
Though his app is the first to offer such a public drinking service, Masavage says other efforts to track happy hours, such as “an underground spreadsheet” that once circulated through Washington, D.C., have caught his eye.
“A lot of people have tried to do this before and they’ve continually failed because they don’t have a method of keeping things up to date,” he says. “The best aspect is that you can help keep deals up to date with your own edits and earn points and badges along the way. This is why we call it a ‘Wikipedia for happy hours.’”
About 3,500 monthly active users have already downloaded the app in Charlottesville and other cities, including D.C., Baltimore, New York City and Miami, but Masavage says tracking every special in every bar in every city in America will take some time. His team has also been surprised to see happy hour aficionados entering drinking data in Ireland and Germany.
“We didn’t even realize how big happy hours are overseas,” he says.
Another franchise moves to town
A college town sees a lot of relocating, enough that a former Charlottesvillian and his partners decided to open a Two Men and a Truck franchise here.
The company started booking moves last week, “the second we turned [on] the website,” says Rebecca Feldman, one of the franchise owners. She and her husband own franchises in Richmond and Chesterfield, and turning west to Charlottesville seemed like a logical step.
Partner Nathan Bocock, who also works out of Wilmington, North Carolina, attended Stone Robinson Elementary, and got his start in the moving biz working with Bryan Feldman in college. “We love the Charlottesville area and I wanted to visit more often,” he says.
Two Men currently employs between 10 and 12 people and has two trucks. The company anticipates a fleet of about 12 trucks and 50 employees in the next few years, says Rebecca Feldman.
Besides packing, loading and unloading your possessions, specialty services include moving grand pianos and hauling out furniture when a house is getting new floors, says Feldman.
And here’s a tip for new-to-the-area Two Men and a Truck: Watch out for the 14th Street bridge, which loves to eat moving vans.