Set to open August 1, Pharmacy Boardshop Hollywood is the newest branch of the skate shop and the first location in a major metropolitan city. Pharmacy—a chain of retail shops based in Las Vegas, as well as Victorville, Palmdale and Lancaster, California—operates on what Owner and Founder Donny Damron calls a “friendly franchise” business model. Damron and co-owner Bryan Herman will split shares and ownership of the shop’s sixth location. The Hollywood location will be the first of six—but not the last— to be co-owned by a professional skateboarder.
Herman, 24, has been riding for Pharmacy since he was thirteen and has been close friends with Damron since the opening of the first shop in 1997. The two have been planning to open a shop together for years now, but it wasn’t until last year that they started making that dream a reality. TransWorld caught up with Herman and Damron to discuss the new shop’s business model and the future of Pharmacy Boardshop Hollywood.
How did Pharmacy get its start?
I started Pharmacy when I was 19 with a friend—we both had five thousand dollars. Before that, I started just by selling blank decks at skate spots and from my work at a pizza place.
Why did you and Bryan decide to open the new shop?
Bryan has lived with me throughout the years. We are like best friends and I’ve been a big part of [his] life. So we have always talked about that it would be rad for him to have his own shop. This last year or so he has gotten to the point in his life where he was ready for a business venture. He came to me because he lives in Hollywood and said he wanted a shop. We were brainstorming about what he wanted and he said a spot for him, his friends, and photographers to meet and go skate, because they always have to meet at coffee shops. He started telling me what he envisioned. When he started coming into the Pharmacy shop as a little kid, that was what he wanted, a huge skate skate shop – from a little kids perspective. He wants to focus on selling boards, shoes, and apparel. If it doesn’t lose money it will be worth it.
How will the business model of the Hollywood shop work?
The Pharmacy business model is very unorthodox. I call it a friendly franchise. I’ve done 50/50 before and even one time I did a 49/51, but it is very unusual to be a 50/50 partnership for any company. This deal is 50/50 between Bryan and Pharmacy Boardshop.
How will this setup, owning fewer shares, help Pharmacy business wise?
It’s the same amount of shares being owned it’s just by more people. I look at it like, the more people who have a vested interest in Pharmacy the better. All of Bryan’s sponsors are supporting him and us. For the most part though, it is a regular retail shop and we want to try and support all the brands we have been carrying the last few years, we want to work with everybody.
Have there been other pros coming to you interested in the same deal?
There have been a couple people, one in particular, who was like “wow, this is amazing I want to do something like this.”
This will be the sixth Pharmacy Boardshop to open, any ideas where the next may be?
Yeah, seven will be a second location in Vegas.
How stoked are you to become a co-owner of a Pharmacy Boardshop opening close to home in downtown?
I am beyond excited. Just because I have always been growing up around skate shops and now I’ve got something close to home. The business side of it is whatever, it’s about the fun.
I spoke with Donny [Damron] earlier; it seems like you two are pretty close.
Yeah, I’ve known Donny since ’97 when he opened his first shop. I was just getting into [skating] and they had the right vibes. I was just looking for a place to chill after school rather than going home. He would take us all into the shop off the streets when we were skating, and we have just been really good friends ever since. When I ran away at 13 he helped me out a lot, too. He took me in and helped me get back onto my feet. He’s always helped me with videos, and going out skating on weekends he always had my back.
How pivotal has he been to your career/life?
If it wasn’t for Donny, I feel like most of the stuff I’ve gotten into wouldn’t have happened for me. I didn’t have a car or rides, so he would take me to spots and would always film my tricks. It wasn’t just me, but a big crew, and he made a video backing us. It was called Pharmacy 2000, even though we made it in ’99. He worked on that video and gave my part to all these people made all these copies, and got me hooked up. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t know how to go about all that. I definitely feel like I owe it all to Donny.
What was your main reason for becoming a business owner?
I’ve always wanted to be in skateboarding the rest of my life and I always looked up to Donny being a skateshop owner. He still kills it and has fun; it seemed like something I would be into doing. It’s about having a good time, and opening a skateshop for little kids; for them to see what its like growing up a skateboarder like I did. I want to see thousands of kids getting the same opportunity as I did.
How would you sum up this new deal between you and Pharmacy and the experience you hope to gain?
We are fairly new [and] just working on the store. Putting in a ton of hours is making me be a little more responsible and on a schedule. It’s making me feel really excited. It just picked me up by my soul and my soul was ready to do this. You can’t have the mentality of being scared, nervous, or bad things happen. You have to see that brighter star in the sky and know this is how you are going to be the person you always wanted to be and make it happen. There is a part of your life where you need to start feeling like that, and [with] this, along with the rest of what’s been going on for me, I feel really good about myself. Also, Pharmacy has been a family since ’97 and we have always been together. We have gone through all of our stuff together, and no matter what we will always be on top.