published Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Chickamauga Drug Store ends 120-year run

From left, Phil Talley, a pharmacist, and Jan Thompson, a Fred's pharmacy employee, talk with Ruby Shadden, one of Talley's longtime customers, at Fred's in Chickamauga, Ga. Talley recently sold Chickamauga Drug Store to Fred's and moved across town with several employees into the pharmacy in Fred's.
From left, Phil Talley, a pharmacist, and Jan Thompson, a Fred's pharmacy employee, talk with Ruby Shadden, one of Talley's longtime customers, at Fred's in Chickamauga, Ga. Talley recently sold Chickamauga Drug Store to Fred's and moved across town with several employees into the pharmacy in Fred's.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.

Chickamauga Drug Store Timeline

1894 - Dr. David Griffin Elder founds the pharmacy

1950s - The pharmacy moves to its third and final location at 114 Cove Road in Chickamauga

1979 - Pharmacist Phil Talley buys the store

2014 - Talley sells Chickamauga Drug Store to Fred's Pharmacy

Source: Phil Talley

It's been a week since Phil Talley sold Chickamauga Drug Store to Fred's Pharmacy and moved the store from its decades-old home in downtown Chickamauga to a white corner in the back of a Fred's Super Dollar about two miles away.

"Chickamauga Drug," employee Ellis Bevill answered the pharmacy's phone Wednesday.

"Fred's," coworker Linda Bradford corrected him from across the room. "It's Fred's now."

"Fred's Chickamauga Drug," Bevill said.

It's going to take some getting used to.

The 120-year-old Chickamauga Drug Store was an institution in Chickamauga, Ga. Most recently housed in a squat brick building with a red-striped green awning on Cove Road, the drug store's shelves are still stocked with toothpaste and deodorant and greeting cards and gifts, every item stacked neatly on mismatched wooden and glass displays. A valance hangs on the back wall and a birdhouse wallpaper border snakes through the store.

But the behind-the-counter medicine shelves are empty, the door is locked and the lights are out.

Talley, who bought the drug store in 1979 after working there for three years, said running an independent pharmacy is harder than it used to be.

"It's hard for an independent to survive today with insurance reimbursements being low, and we just have a whole lot more added record keeping," he said. "With all of the extra record keeping, it left me little time to practice pharmacy. And I really wanted to get back to practicing pharmacy and not pushing paper."

Now Talley and the three of his seven employees who followed him to Fred's Pharmacy are busy unpacking boxes, learning new procedures and serving new -- and old -- customers.

"I've known [Phil] since he bought the drug store," 89-year-old Ruby Shadden said as she waited at the Fred's counter for her prescription. She was surprised when Talley sold the store, but she'll keep on giving him her business.

"Because he's my friend and a good pharmacist," she said.

The changes in Chickamauga never stop, she added, standing next to her cart of Fred's merchandise.

"We've lived here since 1950 and there's been lots of changes since then, of course," she said.

Some of the changes are definitely for the better, Talley said. The store will keep longer hours now, open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They'll be closed on Sunday.

He said most of his customers seem to understand the move, even if they're not thrilled about it.

The soon-to-be-65 year old is ready to wind down from the rigors of running a business. He's hanging up his owner hat.

"I'm a pharmacist," he said. '"Just a pharmacist, nothing special."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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