Weaverville Drug Co. has a long history that goes back over 100 years. The first pharmacy in Weaverville opened around 1885 on North Main Street on the lot across the street from Hamburg Mountain Road near what is now 120 North Main (formerly Dr. Lawrence Sprinkle.s house.) Reagan-Reeves Pharmacy was started by Dr. James Americus Reagan, a physician and Tom H. Reeves who was the pharmacist. In 1905 the drug store moved to 14 N. Main St. (now Asheville Upholstery.) The building that housed the first pharmacy was later moved to 12 Moore Street and became the Lotspeich house.
In 1920, W.C. Sprinkle and Dr. C. N. Sprinkle (great grand father and grand father of present owner Chuck Sprinkle) purchased the business. Dr C.N. Sprinkle had just moved to Weaverville to practice medicine and he had his medical office upstairs over the Drug Store. Herschel Roberts worked for the Sprinkles as the pharmacist until around 1928, when he opened his own business. Oscar Brown built a new building on the corner of Main and Florida Ave. The Sprinkles sold out to Herschel Roberts and he opened Weaverville Drug Store at 26 N. Main. The business would remain at that location for over 70 years.
From the late 1800's until the late 1950's almost all of the prescriptions filled at the Drug Store were compounded on site. Most physicians had their own formulas for the remedies they would prescribe. The pharmacist would mix chemicals or herbs to create the doctors prescription. In the 1960.s pre-manufactured products from outside drug companies began to take their place on pharmacy shelves. With the growth of the drug manufacturing industry, what physicians prescribed and how they treated diseases began to change. Pharmacists became dispensers of medications not manufacturers of medications.
This photo shows the Drug Store in the early 1940.s. Dr C.N. Sprinkle.s 1941 Plymouth is parked in front with Lawrence Sprinkle in the driver.s seat. Robinson.s Grocery is next door.
The Sprinkle family again became a part of the Drug Store ownership in 1953. Dr. Lawrence Sprinkle, Dr. Weldon Chandler and pharmacist Calvin Ingle purchased the business from the Roberts family. Weaverville Drug Company, Inc. began at that time. In 1963 Robert C. Kemp became the pharmacist and managing partner.
From 1926 until Mr. Kemp remodeled around 1970, the pharmacy and the pharmacist were hidden from public view behind a wall. Customers rarely saw or interacted with the pharmacist who prepared their prescription. Over-the-counter products were housed in wood cabinets with sliding glass doors. The store clerks would usually get items for the customers. For many years Weaverville Drug was the only pharmacy between Asheville and Mars Hill.
One of the OTC cabinets from Weaverville Drug
Now at Dry Ridge Museum.
With the emergence of big drug manufacturers, chain drug stores began to arrive in the area. Weaverville Drug would undergo changes as it dealt with a new type of competition. Mr. Kemp remodeled and expanded the store to include self service shelving for OTC products. He kept the old marble soda fountain and served ice cream treats until the late 1980's. Mr. Kemp moved the pharmacy back into what at one time had been a separate store facing Florida Ave (that space had at one time been a bank and later a shoe store). Part of a wall was removed to allow the pharmacist to overlook the front and OTC areas. Even though the pharmacy was several steps above the sales floor, the pharmacist was now accessible to the patients. The windows on Florida Avenue were bricked up for security. They would remain closed until the Drug Store moved in 2001.
Weaverville Drug, as it looked from Florida Ave. in the 1990's
During the 1990's Weaverville Drug, and pharmacy in general, experienced many changes. Computers replaced typewriters and began to change the practice and scope of pharmacy forever. Insurance companies and their third party administrators began to have greater control over the prescriptions pharmacies dispensed. Faced with all the changes, increased competition, reduced profits, and declining sales, Robert Kemp decided in 1993 that it was time to retire. Rite Aid Corporation made an offer to buy his prescription files and close the business.
Chuck Sprinkle was working for Rite Aid in Weaverville at the time. Knowing the long history of the store and having worked there as an intern, he hated to see the Store close. He and his wife Brenda were able to purchase the store from Mr. Kemp and the other owners. When his division manager found out Chuck was buying the Drug Store, he told him he "would starve to death. That store isn't doing any business."
Weaverville Drug Co. as it looked in the late 1990's
Despite this warning, Chuck and Brenda went ahead with the purchase. When the Sprinkle's bought the Drug Store in 1993, it was in need of a lift, both in sales and structure. The roof leaked, and almost everything under it was either dirty or worn out. With very little money to work with, Chuck, Brenda and their boys spent many hours cleaning, painting and remolding the old store. Slowly the old business came back to life. They brought back the old soda fountain and kept the look of the old neighborhood store. The Drug Store again became a gathering place for people to enjoy an ice cream treat. By providing caring personal service and accepting most insurance plans, the prescription volume began to grow. Chuck operated the pharmacy at 26 N. Main for 8 years. Despite his former manager's warning, the business had not only survived, but grown. By 2005 Weaverville Drug would be filling more prescriptions per week than any store the former Manager had in his division in 1993.
This interior photo shows the old soda fountain and check out counter as it looked in the 1990's.
By the year 2000, as the Drug Store entered its third century, the business had outgrown its space and needed larger quarters. The old nostalgic building no longer met the needs of a modern pharmacy and a rapidly growing business. The Town's Post Office was moving and this building, originally built in 1964, would soon be vacant. The Sprinkles were able to buy that building and began plans for renovation.
The building was totally renovated, converting it from a post office into the latest home of Weaverville Drug. Soon Weaverville Drug would be moving down the block and directly across the street from the original Sprinkle's Pharmacy
Brenda and Chuck wanted their new building to keep some of the nostalgia of the old one. The square lines of the former government building needed to be changed. The distinctive architectural feature of the old building was the arched windows. That feature was retained in the design of the new store front.
Weaverville Drug Co. moved into our present building at 3 N. Main Street in August of 2001.
One of the distinguishing features of the old pharmacy was its marble soda fountain. Pharmacies of the early 1900.s almost always had an ice cream and soda shop. Both Coke and Pepsi were originally developed in drug stores. But by the 1970's, the soda shop was gone from most pharmacies. The Sprinkles wanted the new facility to retain the tradition. Unable to move the original unit, Brenda and Chuck sought to reproduce the distinctive style and appeal of the original soda counter. Synthetic marble plus black and white floor tile would produce the image of a soda shop. But the new location would serve more than ice cream. Equipment would be included to make this a full lunch counter with sandwiches and hot dogs.
The facility comprises almost 5000 square feet of floor space, several times the usable sales area of the old store. The new facility has a much larger retail area, allowing Weaverville Drug to carry much broader lines of consumer products than was possible in the old store.
In addition to traditional drug store merchandise, greeting cards and gift items were part of the new store.
The Asheville Project
In the mid 1990's, a group of pharmacists from both hospital and community pharmacies in the Asheville area got together to discuss ways they could make a difference in the health of patients in our area. They came up with the idea of having diabetic patients meet with a pharmacist periodically who would review their medications, monitor their blood sugar, train them in proper management of their condition and monitor them on an ongoing basis. Once the program was designed, all they needed was patients. The group met with John Miall, the benefit director for the City of Asheville.
Several dozen City employees and their families participated in the program at the start. Chuck Sprinkle was one of the pharmacists who took classes to become a certified diabetes councilor. He began with less than half a dozen patients; Chuck and the patients learned together how to properly manage diabetes. The project surprisingly showed fast results, with the City saving thousands of dollars on employee medical costs the first year. The program was expanded to other Asheville employees and after a couple of years, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were added to the diseases Chuck and the other pharmacists manage. Mission Hospital added their employees to the program once it proved so successful.
The pharmacists at Weaverville Drug still see patients regularly, monitoring and helping them manage their diseases. This pilot project that Chuck helped start has now been copied all over the nation. It has been written up numerous times in national pharmacy journals. Today, thousands of patients all over the country are managed by pharmacists due to the success of the project.
In July of 2003, Chuck Sprinkle was honored by the Family Pharmacy network of drug stores with the National Chairman.s Award. Chuck and Weaverville Drug received this award as the most outstanding pharmacy in the Family Pharmacy group for 2003. Weaverville Drug was chosen over the 2000+ Family Pharmacy stores all over the country.
Chuck and Brenda along with employees Judy Rice and Tiffany Silvers traveled to the AmerisourceBergen National Health Care Congress in Las Vegas, Nevada to accept the award.
The history of Weaverville Drug Co. goes back almost 120 years. The business is still on Main Street and has remained in the same block for 100 of those years.