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The first commercial pharmacy was opened in June 1891 by Lowenstein and Strachan. Leopold owenstein was in charge of the Johannesburg branch while the Salisbury business was run by John Strachan, who held a chemist and druggist qualification from Great Britain (1878) and also trained at a dental hospital. The initial fixed premises comprised a round pole and dagga hut in Pioneer Street, where he performed tooth extractions under nitrous oxide which he administered himself. His first customer was Tom Ross, a nephew of A. R. Colquhoun, the Mashonaland Administrator at that time.

Owing to an incident which the drivers of Strachan's supply wagon had with a lion on arrival in Salisbury, the chemist shop acquired the name Lion Dispensary. Towards the end of 1891 Strachan had a thatched hut built on the Causeway. A 'handsome' chemist shop under the name of Strachan and Co was opened in Pioneer Street in December 1895 and later a more modern establishment was built in Baker Avenue in the area known as Causeway. In 1902 Strachan sold out to Mr. James Dobie and Mr. George Drakes, who retained the name Strachan's and Co. By 1910 the firm had premises at Causeway, Kopje and a branch in Manika Road. The Kopje establishment was closed in 1914.

The first commercial pharmacy in Bulawayo was B. G. Lennon and Co. which started in 1894. It was first managed by Mr. C. F. Conrath, and later by Mr. Charles Cattel in 1895. During that time, the premises were at the corner of Fife Street and Sixth Avenue. The firm was joined in 1897 by Mr. W. J. Brickle, who later became manager after Mr. Cattel left for England in 1900. The name was changed to Lennon Limited in 1899 and new premises were acquired in Selborne Avenue in 1902. In 1895, Conrath commenced business as Conrath and Duncan Chemists in Abercorn Street. In the same year, another pharmacy opened in Fife Street, belonging to F. J. Byrne. He soon moved to Abercorn Street and engaged J. S. Loxton as manager