When we last spoke with Michael Muñiz, he was growing his weight loss consultation program, helping patients navigate through Part D enrollment, and maintaining a lean inventory at his family’s pharmacy in Harlingen, TX.
He was also gearing up to be a speaker at PioneerRx’s Connect 2018 conference, where he shared his insight on inventory and functional medicine.
While networking with colleagues from all over the nation at Connect, Michael had a realization.
“That’s when I saw a lot of people and pharmacists had a lot of interest in nutrition and the niche market it offers,” he remembers. “The idea to open my own store just hit me, like boom!”
For over two years, Michael has offered dietary consultations as one of the many services within Muñiz Rio Grande Pharmacy.
After many conversations with his customers, he discovered a potential opportunity.
“When I conduct these consultations with people, I’ve noticed they’re looking for recommendations and firsthand experience. Instead of sending my patients to other competitors, why don’t we open a store that caters directly to those people?”
A few months later, Michael opened Krave Market, a health food store just 6 minutes from his family’s pharmacy.
Michael offers everything from keto-friendly ice cream to vegan pepperoni pizza. As an online retailer, Michael has noticed an interest in Krave Market throughout the state of Texas and beyond.
“All over the United States, there is a huge demand for these products and services, but everyone is turning to Amazon. The problem with Amazon is you don’t know if you’ll like the product’s taste,” Michael points out. “But if you carry it in your store, you’ve probably already tried it, and you know how it tastes. Having that firsthand experience is very helpful.”
For patients who are unsure of what they want or need, Krave Market offers one-on-one consultations.
Michael conducts these when he has time outside the pharmacy, but his cashiers (one, a sports nutrition major, the other a kinesthiology student) stepped up to offer their own knowledge of health and nutrition to customers seeking answers to their questions.
Paleo almond butter and dairy-free cheese may not seem like the cure for all the chronic conditions his patients face, but Michael understands the power of wholesome, delicious food.
"We should be focusing on diet, nutrition, and lifestyle modifications instead of putting people on medication formularies when they are first diagnosed. We show these patients all the foods they love in a healthier form. That’s why we call it Krave Market. This is to satisfy your cravings."
Michael’s ongoing work with clinical services has garnered the attention of the Texas Pharmacy Association.
Earlier this year, he was voted in as their Vice President and works closely with the organization on projects centered on hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol. Physicians refer patients with these chronic conditions to Michael, who in turn works with those patients to meet their health goals.
“This is to prove that pharmacists and physicians can collaborate with each other to impact patient lives,” Michael says.
Although lobbying for better rebates is a worthy cause, Michael doesn’t see it as the “magic formula” that will make independent pharmacies successful.
That’s why he will continue to focus on and expand his clinical services.
“They are a totally different thing that allows us to use our knowledge and practice at the top of our licenses. And, they are specific to the chronic diseases we’re trying to fix. This is huge.”
As he considers opening another Krave location or venturing into prepared meals, Michael’s next move will definitely carry out his passion for clinical services and functional medicine that have, over the past year, forged relationships, created new opportunities, and made his community healthier.