Almost a century of meeting pharmacy needs

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By Ron Benningfield

By watching customers at Smith Drugs greet the pharmacist by his first name and inquire as to how he’s doing, an observer quickly understands why Steve Doom decided to continue like his father before him in a small town pharmacy.

“My customers know me as a person and trust me as a friend to take care of their medicinal needs,” said Doom, owner of the drugstore that has been in the same Hodgenville location since 1917 and in the same family since 1985.

Doom’s father, Kenny, like Steve a graduate of the University Of Kentucky School Of Pharmacy, began working at the store as a pharmacist in 1972.

“L.L. “Mose” Hamilton owned it at the time,” Kenny recalled. “He bought it from Sid Smith around 1959.”

According to a history of LaRue County, Dr. E.S. Smith established the store in his name in conjunction with his medical practice about 1917. Following a 1914 fire that destroyed much of downtown Hodgenville, the business was re-established about 1917 in its present-day location at 104 North Lincoln Boulevard. Dr. Smith’s son, Sidney, owned and operated it until Hamilton purchased the business.

“When I came to work here, I replaced Tom Brown who was retiring as pharmacist,” said Kenny. After buying the business in 1985, he continued as owner and pharmacist until his retirement on December 31, 2007.

“Of my three sons, Steve took it on himself to take over the pharmacy,” he shared. “Now, I spend my time on the farm, feeding horses and keeping the fence rows mowed.”

Steve agreed that from his high school freshmen year forward, it was a given that he was going to be a pharmacist.

“Dad never pressured me; it just happened,” he acknowledged.

After graduating from LaRue County High School in 1989, he took pre-pharmacy courses at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and received a bachelor’s degree and a doctor of pharmacy degree in 1995 from the UK School of Pharmacy.

Though he worked in both small independent and large chain pharmacies in his early career, he said he has never regretted purchasing Smith’s Drugs from his dad on January 1, 2008.

“Some of the larger stores actually have a clock counting the minutes it takes you to refill a prescription,” he shared. “Here, though we stay busy, I go at a less hectic pace and take the time to get to know my customers and they get to know me.”

His employees--Joyce Gardner, a certified pharmacy technician, and technician Annette Buhler help keep the business operating smoothly.

“We’re shooting for 100 percent accuracy, and willing to go over the label instructions to ensure the patients take their medicines correctly and on time,” said Doom. “We accept most health insurance as well as Medicare, and have 24-hour refill call-ins.”

Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays and closed Sundays.