The Guardian has landed. It was a pleasant surprise when I heard that the ubiquitous Guardian Pharmacy has started business in Sarikei in 2008. It took them 41 years to reach the shores of Sarikei after its humble beginning in KL in 1967. You can find it at the new row of shops at 23D Jalan Abdul Rahman (near Rejang River Wharf Terminal 2).
It has 16 stores in Sarawak (Kuching - 7, Sibu - 4, Miri - 2, Bintulu - 2, Sarikei - 1). The look and feel of the store is like a standard cookie recipe which they replicated across Malaysia. Even the staff has standard uniform. From the inside, you can not tell whether you are in Sarikei or KL. The only difference is that the Sarikei store does not have a pharmacy at the back. Well, not all Guardian stores have pharmacy anyway.
Guardian has their usual selection of vitamins, health foods and supplements, homecare and cosmetics. L'oreal or Olay for you, boleh?
Even the advertisements and their specials look standard. For Sarawak, there might be a slight premium over West Malaysia prices. I have not checked. Guardian would bring strong competition to existing Sarikei stores because they buy in bulk and distribute across Malaysia. Can existing Sarikei pharmacies compete against economies of scale like this?
Let's go upstairs, kids. ....
Do you prefer the air-con comfort of this modern store with uniformed staff or the nolstalgia of the traditional Chinese medicine store with uncles in white singlets? There's no right or wrong answer. One man's medicine is another man's poison. Well, Guardian does not sell bak cheng herbs.