Stevens Drug Store.jpg

Photo courtesy David Smith Stevens Drug Store was a fixture on the corner of 5th Avenue and 10th Street for more than 50 years.

Editor’s Note: This is the 314th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

HUNTINGTON — In 1988, Stevens Drug Store, a fixture on the corner of 5th Avenue and 10th Street for more than 50 years, closed after accepting a buyout offer from the Rite-Aid drug chain.

Sixty-year-old Joe G. Stevens said he had been thinking about retiring for some time and so decided to accept Rite-Aid’s offer and be an employee for a while.

“Now I can just be a pharmacist,” Stevens said. “I won’t have to worry about filing taxes or reordering Colgate.”

His father, Joe G. Stevens Sr., a 1926 graduate of the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy, opened the store in 1934. Prior to opening the store, he was district sales manager with the Whelan Drug Co. of New York, responsible for eight stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Joe Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating from the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy in 1950. The following year, the father and son began working as partners. In 1969, Joe Jr. took over the store when his father retired to Florida.

Joe Jr. recalled he was 7 years old when his father opened the store. One of his first jobs at the store, he said, was scraping away old chewing gum that had been stuck under the soda fountain counter. “When I was old enough to see over the counter, my dad let me wait on customers.”

In 2007, the iconic corner building that had been the long-time home of Stevens Drug Store was badly damaged in a fire and was later demolished. Today, the corner site remains a vacant lot.

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