Hamtramck Drugs is a step back in time when customers mattered

Chet Kasprzak has owned Hamtramck Drugs on Jos. Campau for 15 years. He believes in personal interaction with his customers.

Chet Kasprzak has owned Hamtramck Drugs on Jos. Campau for 15 years. He believes in personal interaction with his customers.

By Alan Madeleine
Special to The Review
Chet Kasprzak is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
That alone could make one want to patronize Hamtramck Drugs. But there are plenty of other reasons.
For example: How many pharmacists do you know who may be willing to go as far as the Peruvian Rain Forest for your medicine?
Spend just a few minutes with Mr. Kasprzak, and you’d see what might inspire the kind of customer loyalty Hamtramck Drugs has.
Known by Motor City Pharmacy and then Knight Drugs before its current moniker took hold some 15 years ago, it’s a step back into a more personalized, customer-friendly time.
Kasprzak, now 65, got his professional start in Detroit.
“I was in a hospital pharmacy first, over at Harper Hospital,” he says. “Did a little retail work early on, too.”
He had gotten his pharmacy degree from nearby Wayne State.  In those days, he says, one only needed a bachelor’s degree to become a pharmacist.
He worked part-time for Motor City and Knight before stepping into the business and renaming it Hamtramck Drugs. Being able to speak Polish fluently helped him to gain the trust of the Hamtramck community that was, in those days, quite heavily Polish.
“Now, we get a wider variety of customers,” Kasprzak says. “Bosnian. Bangladeshi. Yemeni. Just a cross-section of the city’s different groups.”
The store stays relevant by offering products and services few others will.
“We carry lots of herbals,” Kasprzak goes on. “We make that effort to find, for example, the older products that some customers might remember, that they still want or feel they need.
“We get to know the customers by name, get to know their family members sometimes. They know that, if they’re having a rough week financially, and it’s been tough out there lately, well, they can come in and we’ll make sure they get their medicine when they need it.”
The store gets products not only from Poland, but also, for example, from Germany.
“Cosmetics, mostly, from Germany,” Kasprzak specifies. He also gets some vitamins from Poland.
And then, there was that one cancer patient, the one who sought a rare medicine from Peru.
“Getting it through Customs was a battle. We had a connection to a missionary priest down in Peru, who we trusted. So we were able to get this person their medicine.” He smiles at recalling the incident.
The Affordable Care Act is, in some cases, Kasprzak says, restricting which pharmacies patients can use.  Hamtramck Drugs is one that caters to these people.
“If CVS can’t or won’t take them, we still can. We’ve been granted that designation. I made sure the folks at CVS knew they could send them to me,” he adds.
Other ways they help those with special needs are equally impressive. If the family has someone who only speaks Polish, the store will send someone with them to the hospital to act as both transporter and translator.
If an elderly person is shut in, they will deliver the medications to that person. If someone with multiple insurances is unsure which to use for their prescriptions or the like, Kasprzak says the store will help figure it out to their best advantage, even if the time required to do so means they have to spend “a lot of hours.”
So, how long does he plan to stick with it?  He says he is in no hurry to retire.
To demonstrate his continued interest in the field, he showed how he’s taken up decorating the store with old product containers and even old drugstore “globes” — colorful glass objects similar to barbershop poles. This hobby, one infers, may just keep him going forever.
His customers — both long-time and new — will no doubt be glad.
Hamtramck Drugs is located at 10300 Jos. Campau, on the northeast corner at Trowbridge. Their long-familiar blue awning was redone in red about a year ago. They’re open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and they are closed Sundays and holidays.


12 Responses to Hamtramck Drugs is a step back in time when customers mattered

  1. Karen Majewski

    May 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    should be northEAST corner. And Chet is my pharmacist, so I’m happy to see this article. Support your local independent business!

  2. julia

    July 8, 2016 at 9:31 am

    One of the most kindest business owners you’ll ever meet that really care about his customers not just out for money like some business owners please don’t ever retire we need you for life….

  3. Melody jernigan

    August 16, 2018 at 3:58 am

    I love hamtramck drugs they have a lot of love for there loyal customers always have your meds on time and if they don’t they will make sure it’s the next day I love you guys best pharmacy ever

  4. Dilanda

    February 28, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Can someone explain to me what is going on with Hamtramck drugs how come all my prescriptions are at CVS pharmacy is Chet okay? Is the pharmacy closes down and why?

  5. csercombe

    February 28, 2020 at 9:49 am

    click on this week’s current issue, go to page 5, odds and ends column explains the situation:

  6. Robert Watson

    March 3, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Hello chester and crew I just found out that you have retired best wishes to you I appreciate everything you did for me the 12yrs I was your client you and your professionalism will be missed thank you…….

  7. Kathy

    March 9, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    I came by your store and noticed you were closed. Where did the merchandise go? Are you planning a going out of business sale? I hope so.

  8. csercombe

    March 10, 2020 at 10:48 am

    his inventory was transferred to the hamtramck CVS.

  9. Kimberly Stanley

    April 8, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Are they closed indefinitely? I loved that pharmacy 😢😢

  10. csercombe

    April 8, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    chet has retired, and his business was transferred to the hamtramck CVS

  11. steve waldrop

    January 7, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Chet is a fraternity Pledge Brother. How can I contact him?

  12. Bob jubenville

    March 21, 2024 at 2:15 am

    Chet,would like to make contact,catch up with passage of times. Bob J.

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