As part of our series for No.3 magazine, we speak to Alison Moore, the pharmacist behind the counter at DR Harris. This St James’s establishment has been serving customers here for more than two centuries.
The perfumer and pharmacy DR Harris is a mainstay of St James’s. It’s a familiar sight to locals and tourists alike. “We’ve been on this street since 1790,” says Alison Moore, the brand’s managing director and pharmacist, whose career at DR Harris spans more than two decades. “We’re a working pharmacy. We have an NHS contract, but we also make all of our own fragrances, aftershaves, shaving creams and soaps.”
DR Harris is one of the many shops in the area to hold a Royal Warrant. “We have two – for the Prince of Wales and for Her Majesty The Queen,” says Moore. “Our Warrants are as chemists, but it’s whatever they’d like us to supply them with.”
The shop’s impressive line-up of cosmetic products attracts vast numbers of tourists every year. But, more importantly, DR Harris has played a crucial role in the neighbourhood as a pharmacy, welcoming in familiar faces for decades. It has been a cornerstone of the area for more than 200 years.
On doing business in St James’s…
“It’s a lovely place to work. It’s very unique, and we have a broad range of customers. We also have two Royal Warrants, for the Prince of Wales and for Her Majesty The Queen. Our Warrants are as chemists but it’s whatever they’d like us to supply them with. We have a huge range of customers, from tourists to local residents and members of the clubs, who come here. Every day is very different and interesting.”
On the changing face of the area...
“I’d say it’s improved. We’re busier now, much busier. That’s also because we’ve promoted ourselves more. We’re now more well-known than we were when I first started here. Some of the clients haven’t changed at all. They’ve been here man and boy, they started coming here with their dads and granddads and then continued. And then there are new people who discover us from their travels. Our products are in some hotels now, that’s a new thing, so we get some more people coming that way as well.”
On the St James’s community…
“We’re all friendly with each other, and we support each other as much as we can. When we have events, we’ll try and include other businesses in the area. We want to do that more and more. But it’s like being in a village: we see a few local residents every day, and then tourists and office workers, too. It’s very much like working in a village, not working in a big city.”
You can read more stories from our neighbours in St James’s here.