Phoenix Pharmacy Moves into Permanent Space – And It is Gorgeous

Pharmacist Charlie Southerland, Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Pharmacist Charlie Southerland, Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

It’s been precisely one week shy of a year since I first reported a pharmacy would open downtown. Phoenix Pharmacy  opened in temporary quarters last October and began serving downtown pharmacy needs. A number of us have switched our prescriptions there and even more of us have purchased everything from cold remedies to shampoo, toilet paper and many other items you’d expect in a modern pharmacy.

The intention from the beginning was to move into their permanent space with a vintage look. The building, erected in 1899 fits the vintage bill and the soda fountain and lunch counter planned for the front of the space would be complemented by a retro-looking, though modern pharmacy. The space has been built out accordingly by Tillman Companies. But then it got better.

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Owner Ron Sherrill and Pharmacist Charlie Southerland actually found all the furniture from Mims Pharmacy which used to be “out Broadway,” as best they know. They’ve dated some of the pieces to around 1930 or before, making it perfect for the vintage effect they wanted to achieve – because it really is vintage. Many of the pieces boast features which are amazing and delightfully preserved; compartments inside drawers, original handles and knobs, original and functional locks. One piece has a leather top with the brand from the cow still visible. Much of it needed extensive repair and I suspect it would have been much cheaper to find reproduction pieces.

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

The furniture had resided in The Storeroom, a business owned by Dale Honeycutt and his son Mark. When the story about the pharmacy broke a year ago, he contacted Ron and told him he needed to see this old pharmacy furniture. After considering other options, Ron and Charlie decided having period furniture was worth the extra expense and effort. All the pieces but two in the pharmacy are vintage and the others were made to match. One piece came from another vintage pharmacy. The lithographs you see on the wall of pharmacies from another era are themselves vintage.

Another former pharmacist heard about the effort and donated four large boxes of period medicine bottles and boxes as well as a range of early twentieth century pharmacy-related items which are sometimes difficult to identify. A small number of these bottles and boxes are on display and they hope to have room to display more.

Beyond being a very beautiful space, there are other reasons to visit the pharmacy. Inventory will now expand given the increased space. A hardware line will be introduced when the next section is completed. It will include hammers, nails, screws, plungers, brackets for hanging pictures, perhaps curling irons and other items you might expect in a modern pharmacy. It will be a great addition to what is available downtown.

Newly Installedd Metal Ceiling Tiles, Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Newly Installedd Metal Ceiling Tiles, Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Further, Charlie plans to carry wellness items such as natural vitamins, minerals and herbs. In the same holistic vein, he plans to select brands of natural lines of cleaners, shampoo, laundry detergent and more. Wellness classes are also in the planning stages with area physicians. Other services include copying and faxing, which are available now – just step up to the counter and ask, but he’s hoping to purchase a larger copier and formalize the service.

Other items such as thumb drives and batteries have begun appearing on the shelves as he gets a better idea of what people who live and work downtown might need. He’s considering a line of greeting cards. And he’s still taking suggestions.

As for the other pieces of the puzzle for the larger business, Covenant Health will now move an urgent care clinic into the portion of the building the pharmacy used temporarily. Their intention is to open within the next few weeks. Simultaneously, the front portion of the space will now get earnest attention as it evolves into a lunch counter and soda fountain. Some of the remaining space will also be taken by pharmacy items including the hardware mentioned above. The hope is to have the entire project finished and open for business by late spring or early summer.

Owner Ron Sherrill and Pharmacist Charlie Southerland, Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Owner Ron Sherrill and Pharmacist Charlie Southerland, Phoenix Pharmacy, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2016

Charlie reports the business is off to a good start. Prescription sales have been a bit slower than hoped for while over-the-counter sales are ahead of projections. Residents have been very appreciative, but they’d like to see  more business from downtown workers. On that front, Charlie wants you to remember that they deliver. Can’t get away from the office to pick up a prescription? They can bring it to your office. Feel terrible and want your meds without going out? They’ll bring them to your condo. He pointed out that once the lunch counter opens they could deliver soup and your medicine. How cool is that?

For now, stop by and enjoy the craftsmanship of the great vintage and new furniture. Check out what they’ve got stocked for now and check back as they add items. Tell them what you’d like to see. And how about let’s give them some “likes” on FB.

Comments

  1. Just ordered my first compound from this new pharmacy…so excited for a) delivery, and b) their willingness to provide a complex type of acidophilus+LB for my husband. Yay! Thanks for what you do.

  2. This is great! Reminds me of my grandfather’s old pharmacy in Indiana. Charlie is a very friendly “druggist” as pharmacists used to be called. Everyone downtown should stop by to meet him. My wife and I moved our prescription business there as soon as they opened. I hope many more of us living and/or working downtown will do the same soon.

  3. Barbara Boulton says:

    I recently transferred my prescriptions to Phoenix and had the best experience I have ever had with a pharmacy and a pharmacist. Mr. Southerland worked with me to get everything transferred and took the time to clearly explain the side effects of a new drug. I recommend everyone look into transferring their prescriptions there.

  4. Terrific news! Besides filling a very critical need for pharmacy services downtown, the “old timey” furnishings and overall ambience make it a destination attraction much like the Mast General Store and WDVX Blue Plate Special just up Gay Street. And once the lunch counter is up and running, and word gets out, that should draw the downtown business and visitor traffic they hope to attract (try getting a table, let alone a stool at the counter, at Long’s Drugstore during the lunch hour). The phased move-in was probably a wise strategy, though I can hardly wait for its completion — cold or flu meds and a bowl of hot chicken soup — BRING IT ON!

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