Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What America Cannot Lose

Elliotts Pharmacy since 1914
Yesterday, I encounter flair in a drugstore.

My husband's family owns the independent pharmacy in the honest town of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.  If you've lost faith in good people and genuine community living, come visit downtown Fuquay to inspire your heart.  The folks in this place live with the kind of flair that has motivated me since the day I first visited. 

This drugstore, Elliotts Pharmacy, has served the community since 1914, and it still has the fountain to serve customers vanilla cokes, pimento cheese sandwiches, sweet tea, and the best milkshakes in town. 

I had never used the words pimento cheese sandwiches before I married into this town.  I had never seen folks line up for sausage biscuits and orangeade.  If you've never had these things, you are not fully alive yet. 

We walk in, and we enter another time and place--the kind of era when folks stop everything, come out from behind their cash register, and shake your hand.  It's the kind of place where you know everybody, and everybody knows you.

You can spin around on the bar stools, just like your granddaddy did when he came to Elliotts after school with a nickle to buy a cola and a dime for square nabs or a candy bar. 

You can talk to the pharmacist about anything you want, and he'll remember everything about you if he doesn't already know.  He will not rush you.  People in the South don't know how to rush. 

I know for a fact that he once brought a customer a heating pad in the middle of the night, and he answers his phone during Christmas dinner to take care of any customer in town who needs him.  Right now, I asked him to read this blog before I posted it, and he said he'd be right back because he's delivering medicine to a customer.

Would a big box pharmacy do that?  Have I ever once sat around a chain drug store, eating lunch and shaking hands with my neighbors and asking about their relatives?

Grandpa says his store is "a modern pharmacy with old-fashioned qualities."  I love that.  I want my whole life to be modern with old-fashioned qualities like Elliotts.

I'm not ready to let a place like Elliotts go.  While so many downtown stores close because customers go to Super Centers, places like Elliotts wait patiently on the corner.  A drugstore like that symbolizes what we cannot lose in America.   


Laurie said...

I agree wholeheartedly. And would you believe that just last week I made a pound of pimento cheese? I love my mom's recipe - so does Scott - which prompted his request for the week before Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I grew up with a pharmacy like that. Stacey's Drugs in Decatur, GA. Sure miss that place, even the bubble gum stuck under the counter!

JulieJules said...

I worked the 'counter' at Elliots during high school (roughly '81-'82), my very first job. It was everything you wrote, Heather. I remember Saturday mornings being the favorite shift as we, Amy & I, would bask in the glory of what our boyfriends had done on the football field the night before. All the Men in town were gathered around reliving every play. Elliots is indeed among my fondest memories of childhood. Thank you Heather.

Jackie K. said...

I love the whole downtown of Fuquay! Some of our family (sister in law) relocated there several years ago. Visiting the main street, walking from the library where she works to Elliot's is a classic and delightful stroll.
People are real and kind and generous. I know there are struggles keeping going with the challenges of the big stores, but I hope Elliot's stays!!

Jennifer D. said...

Excellent post Heather! I totally agree, and am so proud to call Fuquay-Varina home:)

ami m. said...

I grew up in Fuquay, and to this day I still try to make it to Elliott's to get a grilled cheese sandwich (with chips and pickles) and a big ole orangeade when I'm in town!! My boyfriend and I live in Raleigh, and I definitely introduced him to Elliott's early in our relationship! Great story, and oh so true.

Anonymous said...

The centennial celebration in 2014 is gonna be big.

Noreen said...

Thank you for posting. I now own and run my parent's 65 year old business and we feel very much the same. Competition is indeed difficult but so was it for them 65 years ago and they survived because my mother prayed. And prayed. And prayed. I am doing the same now and with the help of others, our legacy will not only survive, but thrive. Shop local.

LivewithFlair said...

Yes! Shop Local!! That's exactly right! And thank you to all the folks who posted to share their stories of visiting Elliots!

Happiness Here said...

It reminds me of visiting my grandparents in Bay Minette, a teeny tiny town in Alabama. When introductions are made, they're always in terms of whose child or grandchild you are. =)

We have a lot to learn from the way small towns do community.

Anonymous said...

Maybe one day we can visit this sweet-sounding little town! We have a small-town drug store similar to Elliotts, but no soda fountain. Years ago, another pharmacy had one though. We used to get lime-ades there.


Monster Librarian said...

I may say it a hundred times--your blog makes me feel so happy, so glad that there is goodness and people who appreciate it still in this world! :) Happy New Year!

jenny_o said...

I agree with Monster Librarian!!!

Anonymous said...

Heather, your blog has added flair to my day. Thank you.

Ross Marion

Anonymous said...

If only the people who enjoy the soda fountain so much would also support the pharmacy. The cost of a prescription is determined by your insurance company, not the pharmacist. You'll be much better taken care of by the pharmacist at an independent pharmacy than a pharmacist in a chain store!