Weaverville – In September, the abrupt closing of the Weaverville Healthwise Pharmacy, also known as Weaverville Drug Company, shocked the community. Residents hoping for a replacement in the downtown space are in luck as a local businessman is looking to fill the need.
Weaverville Drug Company originally opened in 1885, but the present-day store opened in 1928 and was a longstanding institution of downtown Weaverville. The Main Street fixture was locally owned for nearly ninety years. Upon his 2017 retirement, Chuck Sprinkle sold the store to Smith Drug Company, prompting a rebranding as Weaverville Healthwise Pharmacy. A recent Walgreens buyout of Smith Drug Company marked the startling end to this local favorite.
“It’s upsetting,” said Sprinkle in September on the Walgreens buyout. “It’s certainly not something I wanted to see happen or I expected to. One reason I sold to Smith management was I felt that they had the resources, background, and financial backing to keep it going. The sudden decision to close thirty stores was something I didn’t see coming.”
Sprinkle still owns the building, which he was renting to Smith Drug Co. In September, Sprinkle was seeking an independent pharmacy to occupy the space and continue Weaverville’s legacy of locally-owned pharmaceuticals.
“Healthwise Pharmacy was closing and my goal was to add another pharmacy to replace it. Smith Management had a penalty clause and a thing from Walgreens that if another pharmacy went in, they had a penalty. So they wanted me to sign a contract that we wouldn’t put another pharmacy. I refused to do that…The history of the store and keeping an independent pharmacy alive was of more interest to me than money,” Sprinkle said recently.
Business owner Anthony Randolph has signed the lease to open his next Prescription Pad pharmacy in Weaverville. This is his third location, following the Burnsville and Marion storefronts. Randolph is identifiable in downtown Weaverville’s business community as the owner of the Twisted Laurel restaurant. The restaurateur first visited the town while scoping out a perfect location for the restaurant. His plans to open first in Asheville were interrupted when he visited an empty building downtown and fell in love with the community.
“It’s just the hometown feel to me, a great community with incredible people. And, you know, that’s what attracted us to Weaverville in the very beginning…Everybody was so friendly. I mean, it felt right…It was kind of completely unexpected and unplanned but we just saw the potential of the building and love the feel of the town. And you know, it’s been a blessing,” Randolph said.
With the opening of his newest pharmacy, Randolph hopes to connect even more with the Weaverville community.
“Any of our businesses, I mean, whatever we do, we get involved in the community, because that’s truly why you could go in business if you don’t want to make a difference that you’re servicing, then, you know, there’s really no need to be there,” Randolph said.
Randolph plans to instate new services for the community while maintaining the pharmacy’s original charm. The ice cream parlor will remain, with extended summer hours. A free multivitamin program for children ages 2-12 and adults over 50 will aid those in need. The drive-through will remain, and he will introduce prescription delivery. Immunizations will be offered at the compounding pharmacy.
Randolph is awaiting permit approvals and plans to open as soon as possible, likely in February or March. He assures that Prescription Pad will accept most major insurance and offer competitive prices to large retailers.
The display case from the original store, which contains a historical collection of photographs and artifacts, will remain in the Prescription Pad. Randolph hopes to rehire Weaverville Healthwise employees who, given only a week’s notice in September that the store would be closing, were blindsided.
“I’m sure there were other potential clients that might have paid us a higher rent…But [Prescription Pad] also means employment for many of our former employees. Our employees worked for Smith, and Anthony will be able to offer jobs to some of them. So it helps our former employees as well as the community,” Sprinkle said.