Anderson’s Drug closes after more than 100 years as Ephraim Landmark
By James Tilson
EPHRAIM—A local fixture in downtown Ephraim is set to close its doors for the last time.
Anderson Drug, located at 1 N. Main, has announced its last day of business will be Sept. 30. Jeff Anderson, pharmacist and owner, will be retiring.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years,” says Anderson. “I had talked to Market Fresh about buying my files out about six months ago. And then when he had to close the grocery store and rearrange his business plan, he finally decided he wanted to try the pharmacy business. So, we set a date for the sale.”
Anderson says Market Fresh will keep its pharmacy business open in its old building. There will be three or four storefronts in the future, and Market Fresh will be one of them.
As for retirement, Anderson says, “I have no plans, right now. I will stay in Ephraim – my family’s been here forever.”
Anderson has confirmed the pharmacy will close on Sept. 30, but the rest of the store will stay open “for a while.” The exact length of that time, and what parts of the business will stay open, are still somewhat up in the air.
Anderson Drug originally opened in Ephraim in 1910, by Jeff’s great grandfather, Daniel Willard, or “D.W.” as he was known. “D.W. had five children who went to pharmacy school. When the first one graduated, D.W. talked him into buying the business.”
That would be Jeff’s grandfather, Cannon. Cannon then passed the business down to Jeff’s father, Phillip. And Jeff took over 43 years ago, in 1976.
“It was just a good time,” says Anderson about selling the business. “Little pharmacies are having a terrible time staying open. With the opportunity to sell out, I just figured it was time. I have no one left to pass it on to. My kids are not interested in taking over.”
Marge Anderson, Jeff’s mother and a fixture at Anderson Drug for most of her life (she’s 95 years old), says, “For a long time, people have been asking when I was going to retire. Now, they ask me ‘What are you going to do when you retire?’ I think maybe I’ll try to catch up.”
“I’ve been fairly blessed,” she continues. “It’s been a good life. I’ve worked with my father-in-law, and my husband, and my son and many of my grandchildren and a great-grandchild. You can’t get any better than that, can you?”
Elaine Jorgensen, a customer of Anderson Drug since her family moved to Ephraim in 2001, says, “I think it’s a shame that this wonderful establishment is not going to be here anymore. A place like this is historical and a special part of the town. The people who run it become your friends. It’s a shame to see all that go.”
Another person for whom the passing of Anderson Drug is saddening is Ephraim Councilwoman Margie (not Marge) Anderson. “It’s very personal for me, because I worked at Anderson Drug; and my mother worked there at the same time; we switched shifts quite often.”
Margie Anderson also worries that the building will remain occupied and used as a business in the future. “It’s been a staple in the city for as long as I can remember,” she says. “I’m concerned about what we’re going to have come in there to replace it. We’ve got to have a good solid business come in there, because that’s what Anderson Drug has been for all these years.”
Ephraim Economic Development Director Bryan Kimball believes Ephraim is a great place for new businesses, and even the presence of Walmart should not keep a new retail business from flourishing. “When Walmart first came in, it did put some mom and pop businesses out,” Kimball says. “If you compete directly with Walmart, you’re going to struggle.”
“However,” Kimball continues, “we’ve also found, if someone doesn’t directly compete, but has a complementary market, has a niche, then Walmart brings in more traffic and interest. They seem to do well.”