Delta patients still in good hands

By BY MARK H. STOWERS COLUMNIST,

Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!

Fred’s Pharmacy in Indianola is closing.

Back in February, they had 586 stores in 15 states.

Today, they have 80.

Their leadership thought the Walgreen’s and Rite Aid merger was going to boost their bottom line with more stores.

The merger fell through and apparently there was no Plan B for success. The first one opened up in Coldwater, yes, that exit on I-55 north, back in 1947. They later moved their headquarters to Memphis in 1953. Their plan was to set up shop in towns of 15,000 or less and that included a lot of Delta area towns.

Who knows why they didn’t continue to succeed?

Independent pharmacies were always the place to be though.

Mrs. Virginia Horne’s drugstore in Inverness and Donald Drug Store in Moorhead were my hangouts.

Oh, and Harry Collins Drugstore in Moorhead too. He was closer to Dr. Phillips’ office when you couldn’t find a spot on Main Street to park at Donald’s to get your prescription.

I learned more about Donald’s because two of my friends worked there. First, Robert Nelms and then Redigo Phillips. I’d hang out and watch them wait on folks while Mr. Joe filled prescriptions in the back.

The store had been there forever and there were glimpses into the Jimmy Stewart It’s a Wonderful Life era with an old soda fountain no longer used.

The ancient drawers, fixtures and flooring were a comfort of sorts.

There was no hurry, no rush, just plain old-fashioned customer service and old-fashioned credit.  My photography skills were polished with the Kodak film development through Donald’s.

Plenty of out of focus and “what the heck is this?” type shots helped me learn the ins and outs of my camera. Now with digital cameras you see your mistakes in seconds.

These days, Moorhead native Guy Phillips and his business partners are working the Delta area and keeping independent pharmacies and their intricacies alive and well.

The smile, the service and the care of being looked upon as a customer and usually a sick one and not just an insurance claim.

He partners with folks from the community where the pharmacy is set so they have a real stake in treating folks right and getting folks medicine right.

Matt Dowell, son of Indianola doctor Wade Dowell, and his wife Kimberly took over another hometown pharmacy last year in Martin’s Pharmacy, continuing decades of personalized service to area patients.

Fred may be gone but there’s still folks who know how to take care of you, without worrying about 586 other stores.

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