Burns Drugs: La Jolla’s hometown pharmacy with a personal touch


By Marti Gacioch

Personalized service with a smile aptly describes owner Wayne Wood’s business approach to Burns Drugs, a La Jolla landmark founded by Robert Burns and Struther Kay in 1952.

“I give my heart to the business and our customers daily and try to engage with them on a personal basis, so they know who I am and that they can ask me questions about their health needs,” Woods said. “I think that’s important and something that big-chain pharmacists have lost over the years.”

A San Diego native, Woods earned his B.S. at the University of Wyoming’s pharmacy school. Woods bought Burns Drugs from Orrin Gabsch and Art Keever in 1991. As an independent drugstore, Burns Drugs competes strongly with chain store pharmacies by matching their state-of-the-art equipment and providing a modern range of products (gifts, cards, cosmetics) and services with a personal touch.

“By being here six days a week and for consultation, we really get to know the people of La Jolla, and we become more than just customers and management; we become friends and watch their families grow,” Woods said.

In 20 years, Woods took Burns Drugs from a traditional family drugstore to a modern pharmacy while maintaining its old-fashioned charm and hometown feel. Staffed by 43 employees, the store’s services feature a range of immunization programs, including flu and pneumonia vaccines and a travel clinic.

“People tell us where they’re going and we advise them about what immunizations and prescription products they’ll need and give the immunizations on the spot,” Woods said.

Three durable medical equipment experts guide customers through the store’s extensive selection of sale and rental wheelchairs, walkers, power beds, chair lifts, incontinent, diabetic, wound care supplies, etc.

Compounding services are a key focus of Burns Drugs’ two compounding pharmacists. Their areas of expertise include facial creams, pain therapy, hormone therapy and veterinary formulas.

Burns Drugs offers free mailing for all prescription products and provides home delivery within the La Jolla area.

“The people here are special and deserve to be treated as such, so in the future we want to keep our old-fashioned service and friendly smiles,” Woods said.

Burns Drugs is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m, Monday-Saturday at 7824 Girard Ave. (858) 459-4285.