Monday Profile: Prescribing for the community
Downtown Drug has been serving the community since 1998 after locals begged pharmacist Margie Crow for a local go-to pharmacy.
Downtown Drug was conceptualized out of a need.
“If Center Drug were still here there wouldn’t be a Downtown Drug; there just wouldn’t be a need for it,” said Downtown Drug co-owner and pharmacist Margie Crow.
It was a rough transition from Center Drug and Thrifty Payless to Rite-Aid that brought people to begging for somewhere else to go.
“When(customers) lost Center Drug, people were saying please give us somewhere different; give us somewhere to go besides Walmart,” Crow said. “When Rite-Aid came in it was brutal. They were firing people, they changed it, it was an ugly switch-over. So that’s why we did it.”
Over two decades later Downtown Drug is still the local go-to pharmacy.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Crow never really thought about becoming a pharmacist. It wasn’t until a college advisor led her in that direction while she was attending school at the University of Wyoming.
“I just wandered into it. It was just available back then, it wasn’t like I always wanted to be a pharmacist,” Crow said.
While still living in Wyoming, Crow met her husband Pete at a small airport in Saratoga in 1978. Crow was taking flying lessons while Pete was already a Pilot. After also receiving her pilot’s license, the two went on near-daily flights around the Platte River Valley.
“When I was working at a pharmacy in Hannah, Wyoming I had the option to fly or drive to work,” she said. “It basically took about the same time because I would have to bike a mile to work from the airport.”
For many years the two spent time between Aspen and Wyoming. Crow would work at various pharmacies in Aspen as a relief pharmacist before they officially made the move to Glenwood in 1993.
It was at Center Drug where Crow met her later business partners Bridgitte Doane and Myra Tobias where they worked through the switch over to Thrifty Payless and eventually the difficult buy-out by Rite-Aid.
“God bless Myra, she came with us and Bridgette when it switched over and got difficult. And here we all are, 22 years later,” Crow said.
Crow gives her husband Pete credit for the development of the locally owned pharmacy.
“He is the vision and the courage for the drug store, I never would have had the courage to do this,” Crow said. “He’s the reason for Downtown Drug.”
Originally at 817 Grand Ave. in 1998, the downtown pharmacy moved to it’s current location in 2000 after the Odd Fellows offered the building at 825 Grand Ave. as a rent-to-own opportunity. It was the vision of the Odd Fellows to have a centrally located downtown drug store Crow said.
On the first day Downtown Drug opened they filled six prescriptions; that number has since grown to an amount that keeps them busy from open to close.
“It was very scary (opening a business). I was pretty sure we were going to be living on the streets. We filled six prescriptions on the first day but that number kept building and building,” Crow said.
Pharmacy technician and buyer for the store Myra Tobias started working at Center Drug in 1981 when she was still a teenager. She made the move over with Margie in ’98 because of the negative changes that came with the transition to Rite-Aid. Her son Andrew also works at Downtown Drug as the store clerk on the front end.
“It’s been great (working at Downtown Drug), we are close-knit and we do stuff outside the store together,” Tobias said. “It’s so much different than working for a corporation. We handle everything right here and it’s less stressful.”
Crow and her crew have been steadily finding ways to adapt to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. They recently began offering curbside and back door pick-up options to limit the number of customers entering the store. Signs are posted on the front door to instruct and encourage customers to knock or call when they arrive.
“It’s changed our flow, it’s still good and we miss having the face-to-face with customers but it’s just not the thing to do right now for their safety and ours,” she said.
Downtown Drug has offered a unique delivery service since it’s opening. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the participation numbers for that service have doubled from around 10% to 20% as people have been instructed to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.
Outside the pharmacy
For the last 20 years, the Crows have been adopting senior dogs as payback for having, what they considered, the best dog ever. They currently have three dogs: Molly, Phoebe and Daisy all of which are over the age of 8.
“It’s just the way to go, even if you have them a few years, it’s so rewarding,” she said. “They come with some baggage but don’t we all? It takes some time to get to know each other, the dog has a history so you have to learn who they are.”
When not out on the river or relaxing with the old pups, the Crows enjoy participating in activities with the local Elk’s Lodge.
“It’s been a huge part of our lives as an opportunity to volunteer in our community,” she said.
“The thing I would say about Downtown Drug is that it’s not about me. Pete had the courage to do it and Myra was right there from the beginning, she brought knowledge on how to set the shelves. Bridgette is the pharmacy smarts,” Crow said. “I’m kind of just the grunt in all of this.”
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