Boone Drug Company, located in Boone, NC, was founded by Dr. George Kelly Moose in 1919. Moose had studied law at Georgetown University, graduated and passed the North Carolina Bar Exam. So what made him go from law to pharmaceuticals? It is not exactly clear, but one man may have had something to do with it. G.K. (as he was called by friends) met John R. McNairy, who owned a pharmacy in Lenoir.
McNairy was in search of a business partner and somehow convinced Moose to go to pharmacy school at George Washington University. While he was in school, he was a part-time assistant to various pharmacists in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Moose returned to North Carolina with his pharmacy degree and together with McNairy, established the Boone Drug Company in 1919. Shortly after, G.K. took over full ownership to allow McNairy to return to his own drug store in Lenoir. Moose soon became a prominent distributor of drugs to the area. Boone Drug was your typical pharmacy and soda fountain; a place to greet your neighbors and bring your kids to enjoy vanilla cokes and giant cinnamon sticks.
For 50 years, George set the standards for friendly, honest service and made Boone Drug a place customers looked forward to visiting. Customers adored him for his good sense of humor and dependable service. People walked from miles away to get their medicine from Boone Drug. One man even walked 15 miles from what used to be a small community called Sampson, next to Lenoir, every time he needed medicine. Moose rented the second story of his building to a group of doctors who formed the Hagaman Clinic. There was J.B. Hagaman Sr., his son, J.B. Hagaman Jr. and their nurse, Miss Mary Krider. There was also a well known dentist named Dr. William Matheson who practiced upstairs from Boone Drug. These doctors offices meant constant traffic through the drug store and great business for Dr. Moose. He would keep his drug store open until each doctor had seen his last patient. This was sometimes very late at night.Boone Drug was incorporated in 1939. That same year, one of Boone Drug’s future co-owners, Wayne Richardson, came to work for Boone Drug. Richardson had worked for John R. McNairy in Lenoir, fell sick, and had to leave work for a year. He eventually made his way to Boone where he sought employment with Boone Drug. McNairy called on Moose and asked that he give Wayne Richardson a job. In 1947, Moose sold half of the ownership to Wayne Richardson and his brother, O.K. Richardson, who was a pharmacist at Elk Pharmacy in Elkin. O.K. then came to work at Boone Drug.Wayne Richardson had wonderful memories of his years at Boone Drug and working with Dr. Moose. He remarked that in having worked with G.K. for close to 40 years, they never had a cross word, although, there was a lot of kidding going on, especially since George was a Republican and Wayne was a Democrat. Wayne also remembers that Moose never turned anyone down who needed medicine.Although Boone Drug is still in its original building, from 1919 to the mid 50’s the entire store was located in half the space it occupies today. The small space featured a full service pharmacy which sold all the latest remedies for any ailment and sundries. It also held a soda fountain where you could sit and enjoy a flavored cola, ice cream, or snacks. They even sold fishing tackle. In the 50’s, it was decided by the owners Moose and the Richardson brothers to knock out the wall that separated them from the A&P store. This allowed Boone Drug to expand in every way. The pharmacy had more room for stocking medicine, the shelves held more sundries, and the soda fountain added a grill and a lot more popularity. Memories of the small Boone Drug store are still there in the beams running through the middle of the store that show precisely where the wall once stood. It’s hard to imagine how Boone Drug fit everything their customers needed into that small space.The popularity mentioned before in the soda fountain grew to where even more seating was needed. A large dining area that seated 50 people was built on to the back of the store in the early 80’s. The room was appropriately named, “Joe’s Bald Room”, after Boone Drug’s fourth co-owner, Joe Miller. Having a special bond with Boone Drug since he was born in a car in front of the store because his parents couldn’t make it to the doctor’s office upstairs in time, Miller came back to work in the pharmacy. Joe Miller became a partner in 1963 adding a unique blend of wit and charm to the already famous drug store.When you walk through the doors of Boone Drug today, you find yourself somewhere back in time and wanting to stay. The walls have accumulated years of antique signs, medicine bottles and prescriptions from the past. The smell of home-cooked food and kind words from strangers make for an experience quite uncommon these days. Under the direction of owner Corey Furman, Boone Drug continues to thrive. Boone Drug is simply a place like no other. Visit any of our Boone Drug locations and see why we've been around for 98 years and why we'll be there for 100 more!
A special thank you to Ms. Rebecca Moose Marsh who provided wonderful information and great memories of her father and growing up with the Boone Drug store.
Also in memory of Mr. Wayne R. Richardson who had a great time re-living his days as part owner of Boone Drug and pharmacist there for nearly 40 years.