For more than 50 years, McElveen’s Pharmacy in Gainesville has been a place for customers to purchase their prescriptions from a familiar, local face.
David and Annie Stanley are striving to continue this tradition from the pharmacy’s new location at the corner of Thompson Bridge Road and Enota Avenue.
The Stanleys purchased the business in 2019 from founder Alan McElveen, who started the pharmacy in 1970. They kept the pharmacy in its previous location inside the Publix shopping center on Thompson Bridge Road for two years before relocating.
While the location may be new, Annie Stanley has plans to include something in the pharmacy that is reminiscent of her time growing up in Gainesville. She said the location for McElveen’s Pharmacy used to be Corner Drugs.
“We’re going to have Blue Bell ice cream that is hand-dipped, so not a machine, it will be someone back there dipping it for you,” she said. “We’re going to keep it as cheap as possible…you could come down here as a kid and get a 50-cent scoop and we’re going to do the same thing.”
The ice cream is not the only thing that separates McElveen’s Pharmacy from chain pharmacies. David Stanley, who has experience working for other pharmaceutical companies, said owning a smaller store gives him some flexibility with pricing.
“You really don’t have any control over anything like that working for a corporation,” he said. “You just are kind of the face at the counter, you can’t really answer questions beyond what’s going on at the counter.”
In addition, he said owning a small pharmacy provides an opportunity to get to know each of the customers that walk through the door.
“We know most of our customers by name, we’re part of a community here, not headquartered in New York or Chicago or something like that,” said Stanley. “You walk in, and you see the owner, you see the person who is making decisions behind the counter.”
For customers who live nearby but cannot make it to the pharmacy in person, McElveen’s offers once a week, free delivery. Staff deliver to local personal care homes and will even package a patient’s medication in easy to remember, day-by-day dosages.
The Stanleys said owning a pharmacy and then moving a pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough, but a “blessing”.
Annie Stanley said her husband decided to make hand sanitizer in large batches during the height of the pandemic and gave free bottles away to customers.
“Just because you couldn’t find it anywhere!” she said, chuckling.
Like many pharmacies, McElveen’s offers COVID-19 rapid testing and vaccines; rapid tests are McElveen’s are cheaper than surrounding stores, according to Annie Stanley.
In the future, the Stanleys hope to offer clinical testing for other infections such as the flu and strep throat.
“A lot of pharmacies aren’t really doing clinical testing, so hopefully that will separate us and distinguish us from other pharmacies,” said David Stanley.
Anyone looking to use McElveen’s as their new pharmacy can visit Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The phone number for the store is 770-534-7675.
McElveen’s staff can also call a customer’s current pharmacy to have prescriptions transferred to their store.