Gordon and Shirley Wong, who have owned Knolls Pharmacy for 33 years, have been selected by the Palisades Rotary Club as the Businessperson of the Year.
“This is the nicest local hometown pharmacy anyone could ever want and ever expect,” resident David Tokofsky wrote in a review. “The Wongs are the best . . . we thank them a lot.”
The warmth and friendliness of the owners makes this a great place to fill prescriptions or find a gift.
“We take an honest interest in our customers and patients,” Gordon said.
After purchasing some vitamins, Shirley added a small pack of Chinese almond cookies. “I give cookies to my customers,” she said.
Anyone wanting a pleasant shopping experience might want to stop at the shop located at 16630 Marquez Avenue, which the Wongs have owned since November 1989.
In making the annual selection, Rotary Club members require that this person must hold a senior-level management position in his/her company; live or work in Pacific Palisades; and must have demonstrated leadership within the Palisades and the nominee’s own industry, while also demonstrating a character of “Service Above Self.” They annually donate to local schools.
Customers told Rotary members that Gordon gives professional help and Shirley dispenses “motherly advice and care.”
One wrote, “Gordon and Shirley are truly amazing and have dedicated their professional lives to serving the community.”
Gordon attended Paul Revere and graduated from Palisades High School in 1974. He received his doctorate of pharmacy from the University of the Pacific in 1982.
Shirley attended Hollywood High and graduated from Cal State LA in 1982 with a business degree in information systems. She worked first as an accounting manager at the Herald Examiner newspaper, then as an accounting manager with an entertainment company.
The couple met through family members, but thought that story was too boring, so they tell everyone they met at a bar – even their kids. They married in 1985 and celebrated with a traditional Chinese banquet.
They have four children, Brian, Christopher, Nicholas and Jessica who attended Marquez Elementary, Paul Revere and graduated from Palisades High School, like their father.
Customers say the store was always a family affair – and have watched the Wong children grow up. Brian is a pharmacist in San Diego, Christopher and Nicholas are engineers and Jessica recently took a job in the financial sphere.
“She’s been helping us here,” Shirley said, noting that her daughter will work a full day and then come help out in the store.
One resident wrote that they had been using the pharmacy for more than 10 years and never been disappointed. “Gordon and Shirley are truly amazing and have dedicated their professional lives to serving the community. They are so incredibly knowledgeable, hardworking, ethical, and caring. They always go above and beyond in helping their customers. They have everything major chains carry but they truly stand out with their impeccable service, little to no wait times, and benevolence.”
The couple kept the store open during Covid, with a table set up by the front door. They offered curbside service. “I lost 10 pounds running back and forth,” Shirley said.
Gordan said that one of the main obstacles in running a small business is going up against the “Amazons” the chain and large store mail-order businesses.
The Wongs say that business has grown in the 33 years and that “Customers have been really supportive – during hard times and lean times.”
As part of the award, the couple will receive a $500 donation to the charity of their choice and a one-year honorary membership to the Pacific Palisades Rotary Club. They will be honored at a dinner at Modo Mio, Tuesday, December 13.
The shelves are well-stocked and the atmosphere friendly and cheerful. Gordon did alert CTN to the fact there seems to be a nationwide shortage of children’s Tylenol and cough syrup right now. This is a small-town business, where the owners are happy to share their knowledge.