Meet Thad, Wisconsin’s Bicycle Pharmacist

Thad outside the pharmacy.

Meet Thad Schumacher, who – according to my extensive research, consisting of 30 seconds on Google – is the only pharmacist in Wisconsin making deliveries by bicycle.

Thad lives in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, with his wife Michelle and their four kids. They moved there from Phoenix, Arizona in 2008. He owns Hometown Pharmacy in Fitchburg, which he opened 2013 after managing another Hometown Pharmacy location in New Glarus, Wisconsin. “Finally being able to work where I live, and for my family to be close enough to visit me during the day, has been great. I am finally experiencing what drew me to pharmacy school in the first place.”

Thad enjoys road biking and family bike rides in the warm months, and he wanted to ride more in winter. For Christmas, Michelle gave him a Surly Ice Cream Truck fat bike. “It was a total surprise! I had teased for months about how I would like a second bike, one that would allow me to ride off road. Being the practical one, she contends that a person really only needs one bike. Shocking, I know. That’s why it was such a surprise.” It was a perfect winter bike for his two-mile commute to work at Hometown Pharmacy. (Thad notes that there are 29 Hometown Pharmacy locations across Wisconsin, all of them Wisconsin owned.)

Speedy delivery!

What got Thad started doing bike deliveries? “With this bike, you can’t help yourself. I started commuting to work, and the bike parked outside my store attracted attention. So decided to market that attention. How memorable would it be for your pharmacist to show up at your door with your prescription, in a snowstorm, on a bike? I am hoping you would tell someone how cool or crazy it was to see that. I plan to continue the deliveries by bike all year and I’m starting to think of ways to keep cool in that late afternoon heat that July and August bring.”

At first, Thad didn’t want to ride on winter’s colder days. But he found that the more he rode, and the better he got at dressing for the weather, the less it mattered how cold it was. “My body heats up and stays warm from the exercise. I have been able to ride down to 0 degrees. Wind chill is really the limiting factor. I even rode to a meeting on the east side of Madison, as part of the Bike Winter Week put on by Madison Bike Winter. I really commend the winter riders that have to sport a shirt and tie at the end of their commute. I did make it to the meeting, and was fairly presentable for it too.”

Delivery Truck, get it?

I love Thad’s story because it’s a great example of things the Bike Fed stands for:

  • The rewards of making bicycle transportation part of your everyday life. It can take a conscious plan to integrate bicycling into your daily transportation routine – but once you do, you won’t want to go back. Getting places by bike can be easier to stick with (and cheaper and greener, too) than carving time out of a busy life to go work out at a fitness center.
  • How investment in bicycle infrastructure attracts residents and jobs. The city government of Fitchburg has made conscious efforts to invest in bicycle infrastructure, as a way to improve local quality of life and make the community more appealing place to live. They see it as a great way to attract and retain residents. Fitchburg has received the Bronze ranking from the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program, and it is applying again soon hoping to upgrade to Silver. Sure enough, Thad chose Fitchburg as the site where he wanted to relocate and then open his business, in part because he was looking for a bicycle-friendly community where he and his family would have good bicycling options, for recreation and transportation.
  • Why the Bike Fed champions complete streets, which make it safer for people to choose bicycling (and waking and transit, too) as healthy, convenient and affordable transportation options. Wisconsin’s Complete Streets law is threatened – it has been repealed in the Governor’s proposed budget. We need your voice in support of this important law, which requires road design to consider the needs of all road users (not just people driving motor vehicles but also people bicycling, walking and using transit). For more information about Complete Streets and what you can do to defend this law, read this blog post.

About Peter Gray

A committed bicycle commuter and recreational cyclist, Peter is a the chairman of the Board of Directors for the Bike Fed. He is also chair of Madison’s biggest annual one-day fundraising bike ride event, Bike For Boys & Girls Club. Peter works as Director of Executive Search (translation: he’s a recruiter) at The QTI Group. Clients have gotten used to seeing him arrive for meetings with windblown helmet-hair. On weekends, his wife and their 3 kids join him for adventures and errands by bike – sometimes joyfully, sometimes grudgingly. And of course, he has a bunch of bikes. Most are vintage rescues he lovingly restored. Don’t get him started!

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