Champions of Alberta Avenue: Nolan Drugs

Improving Quality of Life Key to Nolan Drugs 

Article by Shirley Serviss
Image by Edmonton Shutterbugs Photography Group

“Welcome” is inscribed on the glass in numerous languages at the entrance to Nolan Drugs, at 8731 118th. Avenue. It speaks to the diversity of the Avenue as well as the attitude of its owners.  

Brothers Zaher and Mohib Samnani bought the store 17 years ago, carrying on the tradition of the original owners. The drugstore was started by the Nolan brothers over 60 years ago.   

Born and raised in Kenya, Zaher and Mohib came to Alberta in the late 1980s with their parents to study at the University of Alberta. They both graduated with pharmacy degrees and worked in different drug stores in the downtown area before becoming the third owners of Nolan Drugs.  

Owning a business on Alberta Avenue when it was a much rougher neighbourhood didn’t deter them. “We see people as individuals who need support and help whatever their socio-economic situation,” Mohib says.  

 Their upbringing in Kenya as Ismaili Muslims made adjusting to life in Canada relatively easy, according to Mohib. “We were raised with a cosmopolitan ethic to accept differences and embrace them,” he says. “Our faith teaches us there is a level of generosity, kindness, service and giving back to society that is expected of us.”  

Progressing not just as a business, but within a community has driven some of the innovations they’ve implemented. They were the first in Alberta to offer a fully automated verification system along with an industry-leading medication management system that provides a full client profile simply by scanning the bar code on a pouched medication.  

When the Samnani brothers bought the store it had fewer than half-a-dozen employees. Two years ago they moved to their present location, a spacious venue for their staff of nearly three dozen with two counseling rooms for medication reviews. They pride themselves on personalizing their care to meet the client’s needs and offer after-hours on-call services for emergency prescriptions, home consultations and free prescription delivery. 

 “We deliver medication all over the City and to Wetaskiwin, Camrose, Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove,” Mohib says. 

The driver behind the services they offer is to ensure their clients have a good quality of life. They must be doing something right. They still have at least one of the original customers. Another octogenarian client made them chocolates every Christmas until his death last year.  

 Watch The Champions of Alberta Avenue Short Film by Moving Artistry Productions

This special community project became reality through the creative efforts of:

Justin Brunelle | Moving Artistry Productions

Weyme Teeter | Video Editor

David Baron | Cinematographer

Shirley Serviss | Writer

The Edmonton Shutterbugs Photography Group

Christy Morin | Project Producer

Allison Argy-Burgess | Project Coordinator