Boone Drug to Celebrate 100th Anniversary Oct. 5 at Jones House from 10:00 to 3:00

Published Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at 10:59 am

Boone Drug owners, from left, Jim Furman, John Stacy, Joe Miller and Corey Furman, gather earlier this year to commemorate the 100th birthday of Boone Drug. They are joined by Rep. Virginia Foxx in the celebratory photo. Photo submitted.

By Sherrie Norris

The community is invited to join Boone Drug at its official 100-year anniversary celebration on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Jones House in Boone. Refreshments, including birthday cake, will be served along with music, games and giveaways.

In keeping with the company’s ongoing efforts to help meet the medical needs of the community, the celebration will also feature a wellness event to include blood pressure monitoring, patient and self-examination education. Flu shots and wellness booths from other local businesses will be available, as well.

At noon, a much-anticipated new Boone Drug logo will be unveiled.

According to Jessica Welch, Marketing and Advertising Coordinator for Boone Drug, while several events have commemorated the milestone in recent months, this is “the big one,” at which the Boone Drug family will be present to meet and greet.

Known as the “biggest little chain around,” what started out as a small hometown drug store has expanded through the years to now include 17 stores and about 250 employees throughout Western North Carolina and East Tennessee.

A great addition to the pharmaceutical services is free delivery of medications within Boone town limits, Welch said, “We just started this recently and it’s huge. It’s not just for the elderly who cannot get out, but also for others, like new moms with newborns and anyone who needs that service.”

Boone Drug also offers home medical equipment, oxygen and respiratory services, mastectomy products and fittings, and diabetic shoe fitting, a full immunization clinic and more.

On behalf of the owners, Welch credits the loyalty of several generations of local families, as well as that of longtime employees, some who have been there 40-plus years, for the business’s longstanding success.

 

100 Years and Counting

Documented history of the Boone Drug company has been provided as a way for our readers to step back in time for a glimpse into the “good old days.” Reading about the hard work and dedication of several individuals who laid the foundation for what Boone Drug is today gives us a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the area’s premiere pharmacy family as we know it today.

Boone Drug Company, was founded by Dr. George Kelly Moose in 1919. Moose had studied law at Georgetown University, graduated and passed the North Carolina Bar Exam.

It is not exactly clear what made him go from law to pharmaceuticals, but one man may have had something to do with it.

G.K. (as he was called by friends) met John R. McNairy, who owned a pharmacy in Lenoir.

McNairy was in search of a business partner and somehow convinced Moose to go to pharmacy school at George Washington University. While he was in school, he was a part-time assistant to various pharmacists in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Moose returned to North Carolina with his pharmacy degree and, together with McNairy, established the Boone Drug Company in 1919. Shortly after, Moose took over full ownership to allow McNairy to return to his own drug store in Lenoir. Moose soon became a prominent distributor of drugs to the area.

Boone Drug was your typical pharmacy and soda fountain; a place to greet your neighbors and bring your kids to enjoy vanilla cokes and giant cinnamon sticks.

For 50 years, Moose set the standards for friendly, honest service and made Boone Drug a place customers looked forward to visiting. Customers adored him for his good sense of humor and dependable service. People walked from miles away to get their medicine from Boone Drug. One man even walked 15 miles from the Sampson community, every time he needed medicine.

Moose rented the second-story of his building to a group of doctors who formed the Hagaman Clinic: J.B. Hagaman Sr., his son, J.B. Hagaman Jr. and their nurse, Miss Mary Krider. There was also a well-known dentist named William Matheson who practiced upstairs from Boone Drug.

These doctors’ offices meant constant traffic through the drug store — and great business for Dr. Moose. He kept his drug store open until each doctor had seen his last patient — sometimes very late at night.

Boone Drug was incorporated in 1939. That same year, one of Boone Drug’s future co-owners, Wayne Richardson, came to work for Boone Drug. Richardson had worked for McNairy in Lenoir, fell sick, and had to leave work for a year. He eventually made his way to Boone where he sought employment with Boone Drug. McNairy called on Moose and asked that he give Wayne Richardson a job

In 1947, Moose sold half of the ownership to Richardson and his brother, O.K. Richardson, who was a pharmacist at Elk Pharmacy in Elkin. O.K. then came to work at Boone Drug.

Wayne Richardson had wonderful memories of his years at Boone Drug and working with Dr. Moose. He remarked that in having worked with G.K. for close to 40 years, they never had a cross word, although, there was a lot of kidding going on, especially since George was a Republican and Wayne was a Democrat. Wayne also remembered that Moose never turned anyone down who needed medicine.

Until 2011, Boone Drug occupied its original building, which is now the location of Farm Café.

From 1919 to the mid 50’s, the entire store was located in half the space it occupied at closing.

The small space featured a full-service pharmacy which sold all the latest remedies for any ailment and sundries. It also held a soda fountain where you could sit and enjoy a flavored cola, ice cream or snacks. The store even sold fishing tackle.

In the 50s, it was decided by owners Moose and the Richardson brothers to knock out the wall that separated them from the A&P store. This allowed Boone Drug to expand in every way.

The pharmacy had more room for stocking medicine, the shelves held more sundries, and the soda fountain added a grill and a lot more popularity. Memories of the small Boone Drug store are still there in the beams running through the middle of the store that show precisely where the wall once stood. It’s hard to imagine how Boone Drug fit everything their customers needed into that small space.

The popularity mentioned before in the soda fountain grew to require even more seating. A large dining area that seated 50 people was built on to the back of the store in the early 80’s. The room was appropriately named, “Joe’s Bald Room,” after Boone Drug’s fourth co-owner, Joe Miller.

Having a special bond with Boone Drug — born in a car in front of the store because his parents couldn’t make it to the doctor’s office upstairs in time — Miller received his degree in pharmacy at the University of North Carolina, returned to work in his hometown drug store, and became a partner in 1963. His presence added a unique blend of wit and charm to the already famous drug store.

Jim Furman, who had graduated from the University of Georgia, arrived in Boone in 1965, worked at the King Street location and joined the partnership two years later.

John Stacy began working at Boone Drug in 1965, even before completing his pharmacy degree at UNC, four years later. Stacy also joined the partnership in 1970, with Miller, Furman and Wayne Richardson, who had assumed O.K. Richardson’s part of the business.

Walking through the doors of the original Boone Drug, visitors found themselves somewhere back in time and wanting to stay. The walls accumulated years of antique signs, medicine bottles and prescriptions from the past. The smell of home-cooked food and kind words from strangers made for an experience quite uncommon these days.

Under the direction of owner Corey Furman, Boone Drug continues to thrive. Boone Drug is simply a place like no other. Visit any of our Boone Drug locations and see why we’ve been around 100!

 

Thanks to Rebecca Moose Marsh who provided wonderful information and great memories of her father and growing up with the Boone Drug store. Also in memory of Mr. Wayne R. Richardson who had a great time re-living his days as part owner of Boone Drug and pharmacist there for nearly 40 years.

Dawn Talton

Ricky Ray Greene

1984

 

 

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