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2020 Village Award Winner: Thompson Alchemists, 132 Thompson Street

Each year, Village Preservation honors the invaluable people, businesses, and organizations that make a special contribution to our neighborhoods at our Annual Meeting and Village Awards. This year, on June 17th, 2020 we will be celebrating nine outstanding awardees — RSVP here to participate virtually.

Thompson Alchemists is not just a regular neighborhood pharmacy. This unique family-owned and operated pharmacy does far more than fill your prescriptions. They have all kinds of essential daily and beauty products, and host live performances and jam sessions — it’s all part of their holistic approach to creating a community and soothing the soul.  We are proud to announce that Thompson Alchemists is one of our 2020 Village Award winners!

Literally a ‘Mom and Pop’ store, Jolie and Gary first opened their pharmacy in 1994 as Thompson Chemists just across the street from where they are now. They have survived the highs and the lows of owning a small business in New York City; high rent and taxes, a fire that forced them to move the store to West Broadway for a time, and a very scary cancer diagnosis for Gary. But they have survived it all, and in fact have thrived and nurtured the neighborhood by offering exceptional products, service, and creativity.

After 9-11 they were the only pharmacy open below Houston Street for about a month, providing supplies and fulfilling prescriptions. Gary, a trained pharmacist who once worked as a delivery boy in a pharmacy, sees his business as a socially engaged community place.  He and Jolie see their mission as more than a CVS; they want to “connect the community to bigger things.”

Jolie and Gary hire local employees, and encourage the staff  to enhance their skills or pursue other areas of  interest. More than one pharmacist that has worked there has gone on to open their own shop. Gary himself is one of the pharmacists there and loves what he does. But today with the American healthcare system as tenuous as it is, a pharmacy needs to make money from a variety of other products. So besides toothpaste, sun protection, razors, gum, vitamins and band-aids, Thompson Alchemists carry an array of wonderful hair and bath and body care products for every taste.

All in the family! Jolie and Gary’s son painting the store.

Some of the many items they are excited and knowledgeable about include special shampoos and conditioners produced by a personal friend’s company. They were among the first to import and offer to America some of the wonderful products that they sell, even before the manufacturer had English language labels. Thompson Alchemists has nurtured their name and brand over the years, and now offer their own labeled products, from wryly named “Mama J’s” candles like “Calm the F*** Down” to calming oils with Bulgarian lavender and ambrosial bath salts to sooth you at the end of a long day.  They also have a full line of CBD products under their own label.

Gary says “society wants to turn everything into a business.” But they have maintained a stable business with the feel of an art gallery and community center with success defined as enjoyment. They allow artists without access to galleries to hang their colorful works.

Jolie and Gary began to host the aptly named Thompson Street Medicine Show, starring Sheriff Bob, a multi-decade veteran of Village jams, Deputy Kat, and an eclectic mix of bluegrass aficionados and performers. And while the live show is on pause for the moment, you can stream the show live every 2nd, 4th, and 5th Tuesday of the month here, or you can view the show on YouTube here.

Thompson Alchemists keeps their prices very fair. Jolie and Gary truly care about their neighborhood, their customers, and their community, and cultivating and nourishing what they call the “Village vibe.” That is why Thompson Alchemists are our choice for a 2020 Village Award!

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