Topeka, Kan. – In the age of big, national chains and mail-order prescriptions, locally owned independent pharmacies signify a rare personal touch in a largely corporatized industry.
Jim and Dawn Hampton have owned Currier Drug, Inc, a small pharmacy in Atwood, KS, for more than 20 years. The pharmacy, itself, has been around for more than 40 years.
The couple lived in Colorado while Dawn was studying accounting at the University of Northern Colorado and Jim was working as a chain pharmacist for K-Mart. Jim told Dawn he was ready to own a pharmacy, which appealed to Dawn, as she had always wanted to own a small business. The couple decided on Kansas to open their store.
Once they settled in Atwood, they fell in love with rural community living.
“We’re free to let our kids go out and play,” Dawn said. “It’s a whole different way of life. We’re just freer out here.”
Jim and Dawn both noted that they feel that Kansas has made efforts to help companies like theirs. However, Jim and Dawn have encountered the issues that come with being an independent
Independent pharmacies have a difficult time competing with the much larger stores and corporate chains. Jim and Dawn attribute this, in large part, to changes in insurance and healthcare in the past few decades.
“There’s always traffic,” Dawn said, “but some days are better than others.”
Even with ebbs and flows, the numbers reflect the reliance that Atwood still places on Currier. Jim estimated that the store fills 35-thousand prescriptions per year. The town of Atwood had a population of less than 1,200 in 2017, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Dawn and Jim say the difference they bring, and the reason for their numerous returning customers, is the personal touch that chain pharmacies simply cannot match.
“It’s rare that we don’t know a customer by name, or even their entire family history,” Jim said. “I know what most people’s medications are without looking at the computer.”
This sense of community is key to the continued existence of Currier, and it’s what Jim and Dawn emphasize the most in their business. They mentioned an instance when they were able to assist a regular customer with a medication emergency over the phone while she was in New York after other pharmacies in the area couldn’t.
Currier serves as a strong reminder of the human connection that can go hand-in-hand with commerce, and it’s a niche that small businesses, including independent pharmacies, fill better than any other.
“If you don’t like standing in lines then you can come to my pharmacy,” Dawn said.
For more information on Currier, including their address and hours of operation, visit their website at https://currierdrug.com/.