2010-02-06 / Front Page

Prescription for Love

By Kim Garee

The Gasser family sees husband-wife business partner teams as the norm. Parents Tom and Judy, pictured at center, opened The Village Pharmacy together 27 years ago. Their son Tarek, left, met his wife, Tracy, a pharmacy technician, there and now work together every day. Molly Gasser, at right, is planning to marry Mike Kozar, whom she works side-by-side with at Abercrombie & Fitch. Tarek and Tracy's daughter, center, is Kyla. Courtesy photo. The Gasser family sees husband-wife business partner teams as the norm. Parents Tom and Judy, pictured at center, opened The Village Pharmacy together 27 years ago. Their son Tarek, left, met his wife, Tracy, a pharmacy technician, there and now work together every day. Molly Gasser, at right, is planning to marry Mike Kozar, whom she works side-by-side with at Abercrombie & Fitch. Tarek and Tracy's daughter, center, is Kyla. Courtesy photo. A successful marriage is a partnership. A successful business, in which the partners are also married ... a virtual miracle of love that has no choice but to strike a unique balance to see it through not just the day-by-day, but the hour-by-hour. Several lake area businesses exemplify that balance, through husband and wife teams who all seem to agree on the main ingredient of that dual success: laughter.

To warm all our hearts in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, The Beacon will feature just a few of those local romantic/ entrepreneurial teams. Here's the second in the series…

BALTIMORE - Tom and Judy Gasser are proof to their children that "it works."

A couple can work together every day and have a very successful marriage. Their son, Tarek - who also works there with his own wife - has never doubted that.

"I'm just so used to seeing my parents working here together, my whole life," Tarek Gasser said. "It's always been 'Tom and Judy at the pharmacy.' You know it works because they've been doing it all these years."

The Village Pharmacy in Baltimore opened in January of 1983, and at that time was not exactly a long-term dream of the couple, who married 28 years ago. Tom, a pharmacist, arrived home one night two months after the birth of their first child and announced he was quitting his job and buying a store in Baltimore.

"When he bought it, it was a little apothecary called Wolfe Drugs, just a front porch, really, for the business, because a lot of the building had been condemned," Judy Gasser remembers. "That was the first I'd heard a thing about it. I thought he'd flipped his lid."

By the fall of 1989, the Gassers were able to tear down the old building and build the existing store in the same location. Judy said she was careful to choose a design that would compliment the small town.

Today, The Village Pharmacy is more than a pharmacy. The front store area is full of general merchandise and unique gift items. The front is Judy's territory, along with the office in the back. Tom works at the pharmacy counter.

"It works out well," Judy said. "I do my thing back here, he does his thing out there. He couldn't do payroll, and I can't even pronounce the medicine he's working with."

"I think the best thing about having a business partner that's also your spouse is that our basic objective is the same," Tom Gasser said. "Yet, she brings something, insights, to the business that I don't have."

"You completely understand the stress in the other person's life because you're right there," Judy noted.

The Gassers say they don't go out of their way to find "alone time" after hours. Their free time is spent together, too. " We're friends," Judy said simply. "We've always, always tried to have a date once a week."

"Even when we had no money, even if it was just a fast food sandwich or a walk in the park," Tom added.

"We need to remind ourselves we're husband and wife, too."

The Gassers say having home and work mingle so closely is not without its challenges, though. "If we have a spat at home, I'm not always able to leave it there," Judy Gasser admits, laughing. "You don't get that little break that other couples have."

Their children, clearly, see the positive aspects outweighing any negative ones. Tracy was working as a pharmacy technician at the store 12 years ago, when she was still in high school. It's where she met Tarek Gasser. The couple married in September 2008 and work side-by-side there still.

"I think communication is the key," Tracy Gasser says. "If something's bothering you at work or at home, you've got to talk about it. Soon. I'm a huge believer in not going to bed angry."

"I like working with her because we get to spend time together," Tarek says.

Now the Gassers' daughter, Molly, is engaged to be married to a man she works with every day at Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Kozar.

"We started as being good friends," almost all the Gassers say separately about their spouses.

The Village Pharmacy, located at 114 North Main Street, is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more at www. villagepharmacyinc.com

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