By Wendy Holdren
A lot has changed in the past 50 years at Eppy’s Drug Store, but the friendly hometown atmosphere certainly has not.
Friendliness and fast service are two key values that set Eppy’s apart from other drug stores, according to Don Miller, who is celebrating 50 years of service.
Back in 1962, Miller said, “People would come in, have a root beer float, and the old timers would sit around for hours on the barstools.”
Miller said back then, there were only five or six pharmacies in town. Milton Epstein opened for business in 1960 and Miller joined the team just two years later.
Even though in the ’60s there were far fewer competitors, Miller said Mr. Eppy was one of the few pharmacists who promoted the store as a “discount pharmacy,” which really set them apart.
Miller said the process was quite simple back then. A patient brought in a prescription, the pharmacist stamped it with a number, stamped a label with the corresponding number and recorded it in the store book.
“You paid for it, got a receipt and that was it.”
Nowadays, insurance has to be pre-approved and then billed and the process has become much more complicated over the years.
Insurance policies have changed the drugstore game, but in recent years, Beckley has seen a surge of pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, open their doors.
A Walgreens store is now just a few feet away from Eppy’s, but Miller said they have not seen a drastic change in business.
“I think people prefer private-owned independent pharmacies, but are often forced to go to specific chains by their prescription benefit managers.”
Miller said that customers appreciate the friendliness and the fact that prescriptions are filled so quickly at Eppy’s. Sometimes, Miller laughed, the prescriptions are filled before the customer has a chance to sit down.
“We’ve waited on three generations of people and we know most of our customers on a first name basis.”
Customers and employees are treated like family at Eppy’s, and one of the employees is family to Miller.
His daughter, Mary Beth Bacho, has been working nearly 27 years alongside her dad.
“I have always admired and respected his work ethic and willingness to help others,” Bacho said. “Following in his footsteps was an easy choice for me. Watching him build relationships and friendships with his customers was inspirational. Eppy’s would not be Eppy’s without my dad.”
Another long-time employee, Sandy Samples, said she has always been treated like family while working there.
“Don is very well-known and loved by his employees and his patients,” Samples said.
A celebration will be held Oct. 17 at Eppy’s from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to honor Miller for 50 years of dedication and service to the community.
Everyone is invited to stop in and visit with Miller. Eppy’s is located at 2987 Robert C. Byrd Drive. For more information, call 304-252-6331.
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