To the Dispensary and Beyond!

by Insiders Dunedin

The minute I walk into antidote in the Meridian I’m handed a free zinc test (I’m low, of course, which is probably why I have the sniffles). This is a place about prevention as well cure, education and dealing in honest advice. Not just a place to come when you’re sick, instead of a sticking plaster for ailments, antidote are much more interested in finding something to prevent it happening again in the future.

The slick boutique space, complete with a pampering area: ‘the comfort zone’ at the back, using all-natural products for brow taming and facials, is a far cry from the chemists of old, featuring staff in white coats standing behind the counter. And while Chin Nan Loh and partner Lorealle Lam pay homage to the plant-based nature of what’s gone before with beautiful botanical-themed packaging, “We are still a science-based pharmacy but we have not forgotten our roots” says Chin – antidote’s packaging also tips its hat to the city they love to live in. Both went to university here and as a consequence everything they sell walks out the door bearing the Dunedin logo, in fact, the city’s and theirs were both designed by the same person.

There are now 6 antidotes in Dunedin: octagon, central (on George), Meridian, north, gardens and south D, at a time when honest advice around medications has never been more needed. “People’s perceptions of drugs have changed. You can buy them from the supermarket with your bread and dishwashing liquid, but not everything is safe or good, and Google self-diagnosing is rife. We’re ethically and legally responsible for the welfare of our customers,” says Chin, “it’s our job to tell you which is the right medication and how to be safe with medication.”

Younger people tend to recognise wellness as their own responsibility, and are therefore more mindful of diets’ role in their lifestyle, informed about additives and supplements. The older generation are more likely to only think about their health when they fall ill and need a gentle reminder that they’re in charge of their bodies. “Our motto is ‘treat each one as if it was your mum,’” says Lorealle, “if the end result is that our script numbers go down, that’s not as important. It’s more important that the community is healthy as a whole, are provided with the tools to improve their wellbeing – this is our business model.”

antidote brand started in 2014 and has been evolving ever since, incorporating skincare treatment, pharmacy. “Recently we identified the ability to influence the outcomes of our customers’ health in other ways,” says Lorealle. The genesis of good health being what you eat, South Dunedin’s new antidote store will incorporate a pharmacy with a healthy eating focussed Café, a gym next door and physiotherapist and GPs in the immediate vicinity. The new store will be the go-to in the future for good advice AND good choices in healthy eating. “We are still always going to be there for you when you get sick, but what you eat is so important.” I had a flash of the greasy burger I had for lunch, now sitting in my stomach like the good ship Lard. “I couldn’t agree more.” I said. “Kale for zinc, you say?”

Post submitted by Lisa Scott

Photos by Sharron Bennett Photography


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