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110 years and counting: Creedmoor Drug Co. among oldest Granville businesses

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CREEDMOOR — Local businesses are the cornerstone of any successful community, and that’s true of several hometown businesses in southern Granville County.

Some of the earliest of those companies have roots going back more than a century.

A group of stockholders started Creedmoor Drug Co. back in 1910. The majority stockholder was J.F. Sanford, a doctor, who ran the pharmacy on Railroad Street (now Elm Street). Eventually the store moved to Main Street.

The pharmacy was sold to John Lambreth Rogers, a UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy graduate, in 1914.

The business changed hands again in 1942. Otis W. Aiken and C.F. Fleming purchased the store. Fleming moved the pharmacy to 201 N. Main St. during his ownership.

Herman Price purchased half of the pharmacy in 1956. Price later died in 1961.

Claude Wheeler purchased Price’s half of the store in 1962. As fate would have it, Aiken, who still co-owned the store, died on Wheeler’s first day.

Wheeler eventually bought Aiken’s share of the business in 1963 and became sole owner.

The Wheeler family moved from Chapel Hill to Creedmoor to be closer to the store.

After Granville Theater burned in 1968, Wheeler saw an opportunity for a larger footprint for Creedmoor Drug. He purchased the property at 108. N. Main St. to relocate the store.

The renovations were completed and the new store opened in 1970. Wheeler expanded the soda fountain and began selling homemade sandwiches. He increased the size of the health center, the card section and the smoke shop.

Wheeler worked 365 days a year to provide health care and service to his customers.

Wheeler’s son Bobby attended UNC and graduated from Eshelman School of Pharmacy. He began working at Creedmoor Drug in 1983 and in 1984, he and his wife Debbie purchased the pharmacy.

Bobby Wheeler began improving and updating the store and pharmacy with new technology. He also made improvements to the soda fountain area.

“At Creedmoor Drug you are family, not just another customer,” Bobby Wheeler said. “We live and work where you live and work, so your interests are our interests. We care about our customers and patients and treat them like family. We support local schools, churches, athletic teams and charities.”

The third generation of the Wheeler family can be found behind the pharmacy counter most days of the week.

Ryan Wheeler graduated from Campbell University of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2012 and from pharmacy school in 2016. After a year of postgraduate training, Ryan Wheeler returned to Creedmoor Drug to continue the family business.

Ryan Wheeler wants to continue to embrace the small-town, family feel, while bringing new innovations to the pharmacy, he said.

Creedmoor Fuel Service

Creedmoor Fuel Service has been in operation since 1951 with John Sanford as the first owner.

It’s second owners were W.B. Conley and Scott Harkey, who sold the business to longtime Creedmoor-area resident Larry Bennett in 1961.

Bennett spent 41 years at the helm of Creedmoor Fuel. He said that he had done just about everything, from making deliveries to going to Greensboro on the taker truck at night to pick up the next load of fuel.

“Early on, we did a lot of little things to help our customers, like cleaning stoves and helping with stoves and even tobacco burners,” Bennett said. “We wanted to make sure our customers were satisfied. Good customer service is what keeps customers coming back and we had the best staff around to provide that type of service.”.

He said things got a little tough in 1974 with the oil embargo.

“It was hard to get any type of fuel with the embargo, but we managed to make it happen for our customers,” Bennett said.

Bennett decided to sell Creedmoor Fuel to Don Worsley in 2002. It’s now managed by Joe Phillips.

“We are a locally owned and operated business,” Phillips said. “Our customers are our friends and neighbors. We believe in being involved in and supporting our community.”

Customer service has always been important to Phillips and the Creedmoor Fuel staff, he said.

“We value each and every one of our customers and we want to provide them with the best customer service possible,” Phillips said.

Creedmoor Fuel offers a range of products including fuel oil, gasoline, propane, lubricants, racing fuels, space heaters, gas logs and other products.

M&H Tires and Treads

David Hockaday went to work at Beck’s Recapping in 1971.

The business, at 501 N. Durham Ave. in Creedmoor, and was owned by John Beck and John Whitt. Hockaday continued to work there until 1979, when Beck wanted to close the business.

Hockaday and his father-in-law, Earl Moss, purchased the business and changed the name to M&H Tires and Treads. Hockaday ran the day-to-day operations and developed one of the leading businesses in southern Granville County.

M&H Tires outgrew its location and moved to 1600 N.C. Highway 56 in Creedmoor in 1992. Hockaday’s wife Susan joined him at the new location to assist with the business.

Their daughter Tracy later joined to help with daily operations of the thriving business.

M&H Tires has operated under the philosophy that the customer comes first.

“We don’t try to upsell anything. We try to effectively and efficiently get the customers in and out, so they can get on with their day,” the owner said.

In 2019, Joe Wilson purchased M&H Tires and Treads from the Hockadays. Wilson worked at M&H Tires under David’s leadership for 11 years before taking on the new role as owner.

Creedmoor Drug Co., Creedmoor Fuel Service and M&H Tires and Tread all say their goal is to go above and beyond for customers. Having served the community for years, they are a foundation for a growing business area.