The Suriol Pharmacy, one hundred years being a benchmark in the Penedès
The Baix Penedès is a region that can boast of having historical monuments and shops that have adapted to the changes of the new times. This year only one establishment from the entire region has received the National Award for Centennial Commercial Establishments of the Generalitat of Catalonia 2022: the Suriol de l'Arboç Pharmacy.
Being the oldest in the municipality, it is located on Calle Mayor, a key place in the town. It could be said that it is the most important site of this modernist villa, which is included in the Inventory of the Architectural Heritage of Catalonia.
Twenty five meters further
In 1920, Andreu Suriol Farré, a Pharmacy graduate from the University of Barcelona, bought the Roquer pharmacy, which belonged to the brother of the owner of the Giralda. At that time it was located at number 19 Calle Mayor, but Suriol decided to move it to his house, twenty-five meters further on, at number 22, where it has remained until now.
At that time it was not the only pharmacy in L'Arboç, but it has been the only one that has survived. "There were one or two more, but that has been lost in the mists of time," says the member of the third generation, Andreu Suriol Ribé.
Andreu's father, Agustí Suriol Escofet, also a Pharmacy graduate from the University of Barcelona, died prematurely in 1980, leaving the property to his only son and current owner. Andreu, also a graduate from the same university as his ancestors, has continued to run the pharmacy to this day. He defines himself as the third generation of apothecaries, a word he likes more than pharmacists.
Suriol explains how there are things that have not changed at all since those beginnings, such as service to people, which remains the same. "The pharmacy has been here for the last hundred years and people have always dealt with a family that has retained similar characteristics in terms of treatment," he says.
What has changed a lot is the way of working and the medications. When he saw his father work in the 1950s or 1960s, "healthcare was very taken with a grain of salt." "Medications weren't so rational before, now it's something much more protocolized," he says.
At the Suriol Pharmacy, apart from the store facilities, they also have a laboratory on the top floor of the building. And it is that in these years of history they have never stopped formulating magisterial formulas. In addition, they are also authorized to manufacture them for third parties. They are one of the few pharmacies in the geographical area of Gran Penedès that can take it on, since they have the necessary logistics infrastructure. In their galenic laboratory they have an important coating of active ingredients, where they manufacture formulas for large cities such as Igualada, Vilafranca, Sitges or Sant Pere de Ribes.
The pharmacy has also changed a lot in terms of facilities, reforming to adapt the space to the needs of customers. The store is no longer as it was in its beginnings, but the façade behind it has been preserved. And the fact of having to go through with only one doctor in the municipality and that the pharmacist, his father, would go at so many in the morning to carry out diagnoses and analyzes in private homes has also been left behind.
When we ask Andreu what is the secret to maintaining a hundred-year-old business, he laughs and says that it is "persistence". But he also admits that it is increasingly rare for businesses to last so many years without changing. «There will be fewer and fewer hundred-year-old establishments, because time takes it. It is very difficult for the same family to maintain a business for a hundred years”, acknowledges Suriol. "When I got started, I knew that this was going to be until I retired or folded," he adds.
Last October, it received this distinction from the Generalitat, together with four establishments in the Penedès regions, such as the Teixits La Rosa store and the La Fitorra restaurant in Vilanova y la Geltrú and the Codorniu stationery store in Igualada.
Suriol took advantage of receiving this award to ask the Department of Business and Labor to review the inheritance tax. «On the one hand, we are rewarded, but, on the other, we are punished. My grandfather paid when he bought the pharmacy, my father had to pay for it, me too and my son will have to do it», he points out.
An important recognition
However, he states that having received this award is "a prestige" and makes the pharmacy "a benchmark for the people." «Pharmacy is very important to me because I have lived it, but I have also been a lover and a faithful follower of the teachings of my ancestors. It is something very beautiful”, concludes Suriol.
To this day, it is not possible to know how many more years the business will continue. The times to come are uncertain. Although his two sons have also followed the family tradition, they are in charge of the other two pharmacies that currently exist in the municipality. With no set date to retire, Andreu Suriol does not close the door on one of his grandchildren following the lineage and continuing to make the Suriol Pharmacy a historic and emblematic place in the Arboç.