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Nisswa Drug undergoes name, management changes

Guidepoint Pharmacy-Nisswa, formerly known as Nisswa Drug, is beginning a management transition as Ashley Jensen becomes the head pharmacist after finishing her residency at Mercy Hospital in the Twin Cities and her husband, James Jensen, becomes a pharmacist technician.

The couple closed on their home in Brainerd on June 4 and are now making the transition to managing the pharmacy.

“We are still unpacking boxes,” said James.

Ashley remembers her time on vacation in the area with her family.

“I love it up here,” she said. “My family vacationed at Eagles Nest Resort for 20 years on Lower Cullen Lake.”

When Mike Schwartzwald of Guidepoint Pharmacy-Brainerd called the Jensens to see if they would be interested in managing the new store in Nisswa that he and his wife, Laura, had purchased, they were excited.

“Luckily for me, Laura and Mike Schwartzwald saw something in me that they could develop and let me help in the business,” said James. “Hopefully Ashley and I will be here for a long time. We hope to start our family soon,” he added.

Mike Schwartzwald said the Jensens may see an increased role in the store as Guidepoint Pharmacy-Nisswa makes a slow change of ownership.

“We set the right person up in a good position and transition ownership to the pharmacist over time,” he said. “I’ll probably own part of it for five to 10 years.”

Schwartzwald purchased the store after meeting with Dennis Olson, the previous, longtime store owner.

“My wife and I talked with him a few years ago where he said he was thinking about retiring,” Schwartzwald said. “We try to keep independent pharmacies independent.”

The Schwartzwalds created what can be described as a business model that serves to develop pharmacists after they have finished their education.

“They are molding younger versions of themselves with a business model they have developed,” said James Jensen. “They have students from the U of M coming through constantly in internships and rotations. When it comes time to open a new pharmacy, they know who to hire.”

The Schwartzwalds also update the technology in their recently purchased stores.

“For the time being, we upgraded the technology with a laser counting device that counts the number and recognizes the shapes of pills,” Schwartzwald said.

He hopes the upgrades will give pharmacists more time to meet with patients over prescriptions.

Ashley Jensen believes the new ownership will not change the pharmacy.

“I know it is in good hands,” she said. “The goals and motives are still the same.”

James is excited for the chance to start a business with his wife and to be part of the community.

“What interested me the most was starting a family business,” he said. “I know there are a few Guidepoint Pharmacies out there, but the way we treat our patients is like any family-run store in being kind and helpful. Knowing my wife, I know any community that had her would be pleased.”

While hoping to help advertise the store, James also wants to be involved in youth athletics in the area and to share his experiences as a defenseman in minor league hockey.

“If anyone wants to talk hockey, anyone can come in and talk to me,” he said.

James is proud of his wife and also appreciates the support he and Ashley have received.

“Ashley is a great catch of a pharmacist,” said James. “She’ll really take care of you. Everyone here wants to do everything they can to make sure she is successful.”