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Bushard’s Pharmacy: a prescription for success – serving the residents of Laguna for 75 years and counting

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

In 1946, four years after arriving in Laguna, Joe Bushard and his brother Earl opened up Bushard’s Pharmacy and Apothecary – which included a soda fountain – on Pacific Coast Highway across from the Hotel Laguna. 

Joe and Mary’s daughter Sheila Bushard-Jamison, along with her daughter Marisa Fader, are now at the helm of the family business. Of those early days, Sheila says, “My mom and aunt did all the cooking for the soda fountain.” 

Joe, a graduate of The USC School of Pharmacy, had a dream. His vision was to build something for his family and to serve the residents of Laguna Beach.

The business moved from its original location on PCH to the space Moulin now occupies on Forest Ave. Then in 1960, Bushard – tired of renting – built the pharmacy just down the street on Forest – its current location.

From 1946 to 2021, an amazing 75 years, Bushard’s Pharmacy evolved into what it is today – a full-service pharmacy (the only one in town that makes deliveries), which also carries high-end makeup and skin care products, an unequaled line of perfumes, sundries, beach supplies, and an incredible selection of hats. 

Bushard's Pharmacy Marisa and Sheila

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Marisa Fader, Marisa’s son Jamison Fader, and Sheila Bushard-Jamison

Sheila didn’t plan on going into the family business. She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Cal State Fullerton, however, when she graduated, environment wasn’t a global focus as it is today. 

“I worked at the store since I was 13 and all throughout high school and college,” says Sheila. “So when the manager had a stroke, and I hadn’t found a job in environmental studies, it was the perfect fit because I had already been working here for so long.” 

Marisa admits that she’s always been interested in fashion and business. “I love the business side of Bushard’s.” It’s not a surprise that she graduated with a Business Degree from Loyola Marymount. Unfortunately, it just happened to be during the recession. “There weren’t a lot of jobs, so I came here in 2010 and ended up loving it.” 

Her brother Luke, a soon-to-be graduate from Los Angeles Film School, has worked on and off at the store doing deliveries – especially during summers off from school – and helps out whenever he can.

Sometimes working with family members sparks trouble, but this mother and daughter obviously have a great relationship. “We make it work,” Marisa says.

During the week, they alternate days at the store, Marisa works Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and her mother works Tuesday and Thursday. 

Bushard's Pharmacy group

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Bushard’s Pharmacy family and staff (L-R): Michael Reyes, Amanda Knotek, Lizabeth Vargus, Marshal Abdullah, Sheila Bushard-Jamison, Jamison Fader, Marisa Fader, Jennifer Couch, Shane Baker, Lidija Ruskova, Katie Bent, Lika Synder, and Elizabeth Major

Sheila spends a lot of time with her grandson Jamison. Chasing a two-year-old around is not for the faint of heart, as evidenced by Sheila keeping pace with him as he runs around the Promenade chasing birds. 

Marisa says of her mom, “She’ll never really retire but she would like to spend even more time with Jamison.” 

What remains the same

Although much has changed over the years, what is still evident – in the staff’s interactions with each other and the customers – is the feeling of family.

Pharmacist in Charge Marshal Abdullah calls it, “The ‘Cheers’ of pharmacies – where everyone knows your name and you know theirs.”

A pharmacist since 2008, Marshal came to Bushard’s last September from a position with a physician’s group in Los Angeles. “My father was a pharmacist and told me never to become one, but of course, I didn’t listen to him. That’s all I ever wanted to be.”

He immediately connected with the staff. “A colleague used to work here, and he referred me. When I met with everyone, there was an instant rapport.”

A part of the job he especially likes is communicating with customers who come in to talk about their medications. One of the big advantages of this pharmacy is that they deliver, which was especially important during the shutdowns last year.

Bushard s Pharmacy Marsh al

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Pharmacist in Charge Marshal Abdullah

“I’m very happy, the bosses are great, you can be yourself and still get along with everyone here – there’s a sense of comfort. Marisa and Sheila encourage input, and I feel part of a family unit. There is no hierarchy,” Marshal says.

In the future, he would like to see their vaccination program expanded to include travel vaccines.

“We have an existing vaccination program which includes flu shots,” Marisa says. “We want to increase that to include travel inoculations. If residents could get them here, they wouldn’t have to leave town.”

Shane’s fan club

Pharmacy Technician Shane Baker has been at Bushard’s for 13 years, and evidently, he has his own personal fan club. 

His real name is Daniel O. Baker, but he says, “Ever since I was born, my mom called me Shane.”

“All the ladies love Shane,” Sheila says. 

The fact that he addresses ladies as “Ma’am” certainly helps. Shane grew up in North Carolina (hence the “Ma’am”) and moved here when he was 20 years old. 

“I’ve lived in a few places in Laguna and in South Laguna for four and a half years. I stumbled into this job when I was 22 years old. I was at Laguna Drug and came over here and applied for a job. They did a lot for me when I came here and since that time, they’ve given me more and more responsibilities.” 

Bushard's Pharmacy Shane

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Shane Baker (on right) and Lizabeth Vargus

He assists Marshal, researches prices, and handles logistics, operations, and deliveries.

Recently, Shane moved out of town so he could have a garage for his business. 

“I just started a personal training company, MindBodyKombat. I’ve been a personal trainer for 10 years with JCETKUNDO Athletics.”

When asked to recall something funny or weird that’s happened in the store, he relates the Robitussin Tussle, “A guy shoplifted some Robitussin and got away on a skateboard. I threw a shoe at him and chased him down.”

A fond memory involves Laguna legend Jack King, who Shane says used to come in and tell stories about the Laguna of 40 years ago. “He was a local inspiration. I learned a lot about Laguna’s culture and to appreciate that time as the end of a good era.”

Beauty and perfume

When Sheila says Bushard’s is full service, she means it.

They carry a line of makeup, skincare products, and perfume – that is unprecedented.

“It’s a big benefit. So many people come in to talk with the front-end girls,” she says, meaning Beth Major, Lika Snyder, Amanda Knotek, Jennifer Couch, and Katie Bent.

Bushard's Pharmacy Lika and Beth

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Lika Snyder (on left) and Beth Major

Beth, a 15-year staff member, is the skincare and makeup guru. 

“Prior to an event, a lot of young girls come in and want a pre-makeup lesson,” explains Sheila. “Beth teaches them how to put on makeup and gives advice on color. They can just walk in and take advantage of her expertise. Before COVID-19, she’d offer 10-minute spruce-ups.”

They stock Avéne, which is huge in Europe and is usually only sold in pharmacies and dermatologist’s offices, and Ahava, a product made with Dead Sea botanicals and minerals.

“We carry Orlane skin products for special clients, some who save up for the cream,” Beth says.

Beth and Lika Snyder are front girls who are also good friends.

A curated product line 

According to Sheila, they’ve carried perfumes since the beginning. “In 1948, boxes of Germaine Monteil were delivered to my parents’ house while my mother was doing laundry in the kitchen sink.”

If you want a special perfume or the perfume your grandmother wore, Lika, who has been in the fragrance department for 20 years, is the one to see. She’s the keeper of the perfume and a library of information on the history and trivia surrounding each one.

Lika learned from the best. “Mitzi Interlandi created relationships with the perfume companies, and it just kept building,” says Sheila. Interlandi came to work at Bushard’s in 1980 and retired in 2008, but not before she trained Lika, who now knows as much as her mentor.

Bushard's Pharmacy trio

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(L-R) Amanda Knotek, Jennifer Couch, and Katie Bent

Almost any perfume you can think of is in their extensive and well curated perfume section – Gucci, Armani, Arpége, Ricci, and Kai to name just a few – and if it’s not, Lika will order it. “People call from all over the U.S. to find a certain fragrance.”

Lika knows her stuff. “Every fragrance has a story. Guerlain, which is 300 years old, was made for Napoleon. L’Interdit was created in 1957 exclusively for Hubert de Givench’s friend and muse Audrey Hepburn. Angelina Jolie took part in the creation of the notes for Mon Guerlain.”

Jennifer Couch, who also works in the front section, says, “I love interacting with customers, it’s enjoyable.”

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so if you want a special or vintage perfume gift wrapped and delivered, this is the place to shop. They also offer online shopping.

Last year during the various shutdowns, Bushard’s was the only business open on Forest Ave. “It feels like it’s getting somewhat back to normal,” Sheila says. 

For 75 years, the norm for Bushard’s continues to be what its founder envisioned – to serve the residents of Laguna Beach, a vision that has been lovingly sustained by Sheila, Marisa, and their wonderful staff. 

Bushard’s Pharmacy is located at 244 Forest Avenue.

For more information, go to www.bushardspharmacy.com or call (949) 494-1059.