Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tell Them Your Undertaker Sent You

(Ft Valley, GA) Avera Drug’s on Main Street is not your run of the mill CVS or Walgreen’s you see on every corner these days. When you enter this store it is like taking a step back in time. In fact the friendly owner, Gary Sheffield, will tell you he thinks his is the oldest continuous run drug store in the state of Georgia. I think he may be correct.

This drug store was founded in 1870. I saw a framed license for one of the original owners dated in 1870 that was signed by John Pemberton who was on the State Board at the time. John was a pharmacist in Atlanta who happened to invent Coca Cola about 16 years after he signed that license. I am actually enjoying one of Mr. Pemberton’s cola drinks as I type this blog. Cheers.

Avera Drugs separates itself from the big chain competitors by offering fast, personal service. Gary and D.J. know all their customers and pretty much know the medical history of each. The chances of you getting the wrong medicine at this drug store is nil to none. I saw a special on one of the news shows a few months ago that the pharmacists at the chain stores are judged by the number of prescriptions they can fill in a day.

This drug store is judged by the lifelong relationships they have with their customers. You don’t stay in business 137 years any other way.

I also noticed this drug store does not accept credit cards. It is cash or check only. But many of their customers just get what they want and say, “Charge it.” The clerks at Walgreens won’t have a clue what you are talking about if you say “charge it” and they surely won’t let you out the door. But they do at Avera Drugs. In case you are getting ideas, the customer list that has charging privileges is pretty much closed but the list is still a lengthy one.

Actually I visited Avera’s this afternoon to pick up a cake. D.J. Brown, who is employed there, is the best cake baker this side of the Mississippi River. I was given one of her 16 layer (yes I said sixteen) chocolate cakes last week after eating a slice or two at a luncheon a few weeks ago and going on and on about how good it was. I was there to today to pick up her 16 layer caramel cake. I can tell you I just ate a piece of it with Mr. Pemberton’s drink. And it is the type of cake that will make you want to seriously slap your grandma.

So there you have it. If you live in the middle Georgia area and want some personal attention and service with your medicine needs or you just want to take a stroll down memory lane, be sure to stop by Avera Drugs in Ft. Valley and visit with Gary and just look around that store at all the history.

And if you want the best cake you have ever put in your mouth you can give D.J. a call at the drug store at 478-825-5561. You talk about a full service pharmacy. This is it.

Just tell them your undertaker sent you.

(Note: I was turned on to DJ and her delicious cakes by the Yancey sisters, Jane and Sue, who go by Horsting and Humphreys these days).


Gwen Hudgins said...

Hi Bruce,
Loved you blog today. I had the pleasure of hearing you at Jane Yancey's Girls of '68 luncheon and eating D.J.'s cakes. Notice I said plural!! Her cakes have long been a staple at the Doles' family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I am a cake baker but I bow to D.J. and her caramel cake!!
Tell that brother-in-law, Jimmy, I said hello and that we missed him at the grand reunion!!
Gwen Estes Hudgins-Gainesville, GA

Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for this blog. DJ not only can bake the best cake I've ever eaten but is one of the finest, sweetest, caring, Christian women I know--she just gives, gives, & gives. Gary Sheffield is a great person even though he is an Auburn fan!! There are still lots of things wonderful about Fort Valley and you wrote about three of them--DJ, Gary & Avera Drugs. Thanks for shedding a positive light on the "Valley". Sue

KAT said...

Mr Goddard:
The small independent drugstore is being hit hard by the cost of medicines and health care. Even with drug plans there are price shoppers. Some of the drug chains have fabulous prices on food (Walgreen's is said to have a good deal on fruit cups.)

But nothing will completely replace a well-trained and experienced druggist providing good customer service.

But I noticed the glass case with the old meds in it. Which reminds me; you ought to go to the old drugstore near the city gates of St. Augustine's old section. They have medicine bottles dating from the Sixties on back. Did you know that Lysol had coal tar in it? There was a roach control product on display with a 1000.00 guarantee .

The drugstore had general merchandise displayed when I first went there 18 years ago. It may have been a drugstore-and-everything else store.

Today part of the space has been modernized as an internet cafe and souvenir store.