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End of an Era: Vandalia Drug being sold, moving to County Market

Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 2:08 am

Vandalia Drug owner Joe Salois visits with several area residents at the “Home of the Nickel Cup of Coffee.”

Vandalia Drug owner Joe Salois visits with several area residents at the “Home of the Nickel Cup of Coffee.”

After 40 years of serving the Vandalia area as a pharmacy on Main St., Vandalia Drug will soon find a new home inside of County Market on U.S. Highway 54.
Vandalia Drug owners Joe and Debbie Salois have made an agreement with Niemann Foods, Inc. to sell the soda fountain and “Home of a Nickel Cup of Coffee.” Vandalia Drug is likely to be serving its final customers in approximately 60 days.
Joe Salois will remain as head pharmacist at the new location and will likely be joined by some of his current staff.
“We’re excited to bring the pharmacy services into our supermarket,” said Gerry Kettler, Niemann’s Director of Consumer Affairs. “…We’re happy to welcome Joe and his team to the County Market family…The changes the consumer will feel are very minimal. They’re dealing with the same people. You’re joining a larger system so there are more products available to them at competitive prices.”
Niemann Foods, Inc. currently owns and operates more than 15 other pharmacies including locations in Hannibal, Canton, and Palmyra.
The pharmacy in County Market’s Vandalia location will become a reality during the store’s upcoming remodeling efforts.
Aside from the services of a pharmacy, the establishment has been a long-time gathering place for local coffee drinkers of all ages. It’s uncertain if space will be available during the remodeling.
“We tried to find a buyer who might want to keep the coffee counter and keep the tradition alive but all potential buyers planned on moving the pharmacy to another location so we tried to decide which offer would work out best for us and the town,” said Joe Salois, who with his wife Debbie had been looking for a buyer since 2009. “I believe we have found just that in County Market. This allows us to have a pharmacy in town and it’s in a convenient location.”
Joe Salois said he’s missed just three days to illness and has been no longer away from the store than four days at a time in the last 18 years.
“To be honest, with no relief help, I was getting tired,” Joe Salois said. “There were more things to consider but that was a big factor, as well as stress; owning your own business is not all peaches and cream you know.”
With only two months left on Main St., Joe Salois is encouraging pa-trons to not miss out on creating more memories with their loved ones at the Main St. location.
“The soda fountain and nickel coffee counter will be open for as long as possible so be sure to come in with your camera and grandkids for one final trip down memory lane, and you might want to pick up one of our commemorative coffee mugs for a souvenir,” Joe Salois said.
“Of all the things we will miss, that will be the most painful. I wanted to keep the tradition going as long as I could. While the fountain never made money, I always told people it was a hobby and no one makes money at their hobby. The building and many features inside will eventually go on sale but probably not for about six months.”
As of August 1, Joe Salois said no new charges or held tickets will be available.
His is asking for all Vandalia Drug charge accounts to be paid in the near future.
During his journey, Joe Salois said he’s thankful for John Fitzgerald and Hal Clinton for the opportunity to live out his dream and for all of their help.
Fitzgerald and Clinton joined their two pharmacies to create Vandalia Drug in 1972.
Joe Salois worked there for three summers when he met his wife Debbie, who was working the soda fountain. Two years later, the two were married.
He’s also thankful for his wife Debbie and her efforts with the business while raising their two sons.
He’s also thankful for all of his workers through the years while noting the efforts of Brandy Green. Green has worked with him for more than 13 years.
Joe Salois added that he’s thankful for the opportunity to serve area residents at the Main St. location.
“I would especially like to thank the town for welcoming us with open arms and great support, without which none of this would have been possible,” Joe Salois said.
“Speaking of support, every business I ever needed help from always came through in times of need for us or the community, I especially want to thank the First National Bank of Audrain County and Martinsburg Bank for believing in us and always being there when we needed them. Finally, let me say how much I appreciate being allowed to be your ‘Home Town Pharmacist’ for 18 years and I hope to see you all at our new location.  Thank you and thank God!”