Thompson Chemists: A Pharmacy Where ‘Mama J’ And ‘The Medicine Man’ Prescribe Music, Magic, And Community By Elle McLogan

Thompson Chemists: A Pharmacy Where ‘Mama J’ And ‘The Medicine Man’ Prescribe Music, Magic, And Community

By Elle McLogan

“This type of store, you can’t cookie-cut this,” Gary “The Medicine Man” Alony told CBS2’s Elle McLogan.

At Thompson Chemists in SoHo, you can listen to bluegrass from Sheriff and the Deputy every other Tuesday night. The band plays among rows of ointments and face creams, a performance known as the Thompson Street Medicine Show. It draws a local crowd.

 Kat Minogue Sheriff and The Deputy
Recently, Thompson Chemists and the Thompson Street Medicine Show were featured on CBS’s The Dig! Check out this lovely piece about ‘Mama J’ and ‘The Medicine Man’ – names taken from Kat’s Theme Song for the show!: Sheriff and The Deputy at the Thompson Street Medicine Show in the news!

Sheriff and the Deputy at the Thompson Street Medicine Show (credit: CBS2)

The show is just one of the unusual offerings at the shop, opened in 1994 by pharmacist Gary Alony.

He and his wife Jolie have built their health store into a neighborhood hangout, where visitors greet them by name —

Gary is called the “Medicine Man,” and Jolie is “Mama J.”

Gary the Medicine Man and Jolie is Mama J

Sculptures by local artists hang from the ceiling—the store’s devoted clientele includes many artists, who receive a ten percent discount.

sculptures of Gary and Jolie hang from the ceiling
Art by Edd Fenner at Thompson Chemists (credit: CBS2)

Gary and Jolie blend bath salts and make candles by hand, and they line the shelves with rare imported beauty products.

Both have endured serious illness. Gary’s cancer is in remission. Experience on the other side of the health care industry has informed the approach they take at Thompson Chemists. In addition to pharmaceuticals, they offer natural remedies, plus a listening ear.

“We are a source of information, and we’re a source of support,” Gary said.

As independent shops like theirs get swallowed up by chain drugstore behemoths, the Alonys hope their originality will keep them in business.

“This type of store, you can’t cookie-cut this,” Gary said. “As people go by, everybody throws in a little pinch of themselves. And that’s how it grows. It gives us one big gumbo, and that’s a community.”

Thompson Chemists

132 Thompson Street

New York, NY 10012

(212) 598-9790

What’s something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.