Made in Uptown: Mini TX Pharmacy

Jennifer Pham didn’t think she’d end up taking over her father’s long-standing medical center and pharmacy at Argyle and Withrop, but when he began talking about retirement and selling, she couldn’t stand losing the place where she spent much of her childhood. Instead, she used her marketing degree to retool the business for a new generation of customers and, together with pharmacist Thoa Bui, is making plans to transform it into an east-meets-west pharmacy.

Open since 1983, the business has been an invaluable resource to Uptown’s immigrant community. Her father, Nam Pham, immigrated to the States in 1975 and – despite not speaking English – earned a pharmacy degree in Iowa before moving to Chicago. Drawn to Argyle’s growing Vietnamese community, he saw a need in a specialized pharmacy to serve locals who didn’t speak English, becoming one of the first Vietnamese immigrants to open a shop on Argyle and helping cement the area’s vibrancy for years to come.

But Nam had big ideas and soon expanded the business to match his many interests. He got a license to become a travel agent, his wife sold jewelry, and other vendors turned the store into a mini mall catering to the area’s bustling pan-Asian community.

Not much has changed since then although Mini TX Pharmacy now also specializes in compounding to create personalized medication, mixing ingredients to suit patients’ exact strength and dosage. Their most popular compounded products are pain creams, made locally and without fillers. The process is old school but allows the pharmacist to closely work with both patient and prescriber to customize medication. Mini TX Pharmacy is also one of the few pharmacies in Chicago to offer compounding and Jennifer sees it as fitting into the trend of people wanting to better understand their healthcare.

As Jennifer gradually takes over the business, she – like her father – has big plans for the pharmacy. She’s become a certified pharmacy technician and plans to continue serving Mini TX’s long-standing South East Asian clientelle but also expand the pharmacy’s services to include acupuncture and nutrition. Her plans also include new signage and brighter awnings. Stop by and see for yourself!