Sloan Column: A prescription for success
For more than a century, Wannamaker Drug in Cheraw has prided itself on “Going the Extra Mile” for its customers.
In business at the same location on Market Street since 1898, the hometown drug store will be going more than just an extra mile for its customers in the coming year. The store will leave its long time location in downtown Cheraw and move roughly two and a half miles down the road to its new address at 700 Chesterfield Highway.
“At Wannamaker Drug,” the drug store’s web page reminds its visitors, “you are more than a prescription number. You are our friend... our family... our neighbor.” Owners Chris and Lisa Bridges plan to do their very best to ensure their business does not lose its reputation for taking great care of its customers.
To be honest, the Bridges really had no choice but to move Wannamaker to a more convenient location that offers more space and a drive thru. Like so many other independent pharmacy owners, the only options the Bridges had were to evolve and compete with the big corporate chains or close up shop.
Until recently, I have not been a big fan of getting my prescriptions filled. Standing in long lines and speaking with a disinterested, sometimes rude, person is not my idea of a task to get too thrilled about. It’s tiresome and frustrating, and by the time I leave I’m already in need of medication to calm my nerves.
All that changed two years ago when CareSouth Carolina’s Community Pharmacy opened up in Society Hill. I know its not locally owned, but they changed my entire perspective on getting prescriptions refilled. They know me by name when I walk in the door. They make sure my prescriptions are filled properly and take care of my every need. Not once have I felt like I was “just another customer in line.” The place is like a tiny oasis in a desert of detestable corporate pharmacies.
The thing that makes places like CSC-Society Hill and Wannamaker so special is quite simple – customer service. They make their customers feel welcome and appreciated. From my experiences, exceptional customer service is a very rare commodity these days.
With few exceptions, the “mom and pop” drug stores that earned their customer’s loyalty by way of great customer care are all but extinct. For that you can thank all those big box pharmacies. And when all the locally owned drug stores began to disappear, so did the extraordinary customer service.
The news of Wannamaker making its move got me to thinking about other local drug stores that have served their communities for many years. Most are now gone, but a handful have survived.
In downtown Florence, a number of family-owned pharmacies not only survived, but thrived for decades. The Florence Pharmacy on South Dargan served its customers for 80 years until closing in 2016. The Dixon Drug Company, also on South Dargan, was open from 1950 to 1962. There have also been several others, including Riley’s, Zeigler’s, J & J, and, going way back, Darby’s.
I’m not sure, but I’ve been told the two oldest independent pharmacies still open in Florence are The Medicine Mart and Moss Compounding Pharmacy. Moss has expanded and has changed considerably from the original Moss Pharmacy on Second Loop Road that opened in 1977. Little has changed at The Medicine Mart since it first opened on South Irby in 1986.
Visit other towns and cities in the Pee Dee and you’ll likely find at least one local drug store that has withstood the test of time. There’s Bridger’s Drugs in Marion. It still has an old Rexall Drugs neon sign above its front door on North Main Street. Bridger’s has been open since 1935. M& D Drug Company in Lake City is still around. The doors of the Hartsville Drug Co. are still open on West Carolina. The pharmacy has been serving residents of the Hartsville area since 1948. Carolina Drug Store on the public square has been serving Darlington for decades. Owned by the Weaver family, it still offers great customer service but is operated by Walgreens.
Ask the customers at any of these establishments why they have been coming back year after year and they will tell you it is customer service, plain and simple.
I suspect that Wannamaker will do just fine in its new location. The distance doesn’t really matter when you can walk in, be called by name, get your needs met in decent time, and leave feeling like you just visited a neighbor.
You can’t put a price on that.
Contact Editor Bob Sloan at editor@florencenewsjournal. com.