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Volunteers revamp Pine Plains Pharmacy windows

PINE PLAINS — Through the collaboration of the creative team at NYC women’s fashion company Tory Burch, the windows of the Pine Plains Pharmacy at 2965 Church St. now pop with color and energy, thanks to a community service project done this summer.

The idea can be traced back to Eric Rewilak, who works on the creative development team at Tory Burch, and recently moved from New York City to Pine Plains. 

Rewilak and his partner formerly rented a home in town, but officially became homeowners three years ago, transitioning from the fast pace of the city to the calm of rural living. 

Rewilak said he kept hearing from friends about the Pine Plains Pharmacy and all the work its owner, pharmacist Nasir Mahmood, has been doing for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few months ago, Rewilak said he was approached by a friend who asked if he would redecorate the pharmacy’s windows to support Mahmood for all he’s done for the community. Rewilak loved the concept, and spoke with his boss about it. 

She not only got on board, but suggested he turn it into a team-building event. Rewilak approached Mahmood, who he said was “completely open to the idea.”

Drawing from his background in production, Rewilak connected to vendors who work on storefronts to propose the  community service project.

“We have a team that works on windows, activations and pop-ups,” Rewilak explained, “and once they’re done, we don’t know what to do with the props and set-ups.”

When Rewilak filled Burch in on how Mahmood has helped out during the pandemic, she loved the idea and offered props from their storeroom for the project.

The work began on June 18, with a team of around 20 people taking a three-hour ride from New York City to Pine Plains to help out.

“It was exciting because it was the first time we had seen each other in a year,” Rewilak said.

Calling this project their “Day It Forward Day,” the team wore T-shirts with the words “Day It Forward” printed on them to reflect their community service. 

From scraping old decals off the pharmacy windows to arranging the props, Rewilak said every volunteer had their own role, which he believes contributed to the project’s success. When asked about the look they were going for, he said they wanted it to feel seasonably appropriate but also fresh and exciting. French café chairs were placed in front of the pharmacy to give customers a place to sit while they wait for their prescriptions.

Starting at 9 a.m., the team was finished by 1 p.m.; they then went to Rewilak’s house for another team-building event.

Asked whether this project was meant to be a pop-up installation or a project he’d like to redesign every so often, Rewilak said he’d like to return, adding that he stops by the pharmacy to see what the community’s reactions have been and where the windows need to be retouched. 

Looking ahead, he said he’s going to be working closely with Jeanne Prager, a Pine Plains Pharmacy employee who was previously in charge of the installations in the pharmacy’s windows. Prager said she now loves the way they look.

Reflecting on his first local community event, Rewilak recalled memories of his mother working in a pharmacy. Seeing how hard she worked, he said “being able to pay back [my thanks] to Nasir felt very good,” Rewilak said. “We’ve been getting a lot of emails and calls, and Nasir calls to say it’s made a big difference as a community.”

“The community was very happy,” Mahmood said. “We had a very good response from the volunteers and a big response from the community… They did a marvelous job, no doubt about that. We’re getting a lot of comments from people who come in and from people who stop by to comment on it. It’s very satisfying that we did something that works for the whole community, but the credit goes out to the volunteers.”

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