Over the past four months, the husband and wife team of Bradley and Aletha Eller have taken over ownership of People’s Drug Store in West Jefferson, and though they are modernizing the store, they want to maintain the small-town pharmacy atmosphere.
“We did it (purchased the store) because we want a better quality of life,” said Bradley, not just to make a profit.
The Ellers, who are from the Miller’s Creek area, purchased People’s Drug Store on Nov. 1, 2012. Out of this husband and wife team, Aletha manages the pharmacy while Bradley handles the store from the business end.
Aletha earned a B.S. in pharmacy from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1997, and a PhD in pharmacy from Campbell University in 2000. Since then, she has worked for RefCo, Wilkes Regional Medical Center, and was a pharmacy manager at Walgreens.
Aletha said as time wore on, pharmacy chains focused more on production (sales volume and numbers) while spending as little as possible, at the sacrifice of good customer service.
“My wife is a people person, and at a chain, she couldn’t interact with customers,” said Bradley.
Instead of just focusing on their sales, Bradley and Aletha said they want to focus on helping their customers. They said they want to give their customers all of the information they might need, answer any questions, and hold a customers hand through the process.
Aletha also said she and her husband like the cafe in People’s Drug Store because it allows them to better interact with people from the community.
Despite this small-town feel, the Ellers are proud to say Peoples Drug Store now has all of the conveniences of a modern pharmacy.
They can compound prescriptions to suit each customer, they give immunizations for the flu and pneumonia, and they also flavor medications for pediatrics.
“We try to take the bitterness out of the bitter pill,” said Bradley.
People’s Drug can also provide easy dose droppers for children and provides some veterinarian prescriptions.
Along with the new services, People’s Drug has been freshly remolded with new paint on the walls and an assortment of new merchandise.
Through these changes, the Ellers chose to keep the People’s Drug staff in place.
“We were happy to keep the staff in place,” said Bradley. The pharmacy staff alone has a combined of 50 years of experience
Despite the changes, the Ellers said the loyal customer base gained by People’s Drug Store over the years has been very inviting to the new owners.
“We found the community to be very warm and welcoming,” said Bradley.
People’s Drug is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Monday-Friday and from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. The cafe will be open until 2 p.m.
“We don’t plan to be open on Sunday,” said Bradley. The Ellers said Sunday is reserved to spend time with each other and with their four-year-old daughter named Tucker.
“We are small-town America,” said Bradley, “and we feel comfortable around small-town people.”