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BUTNER — The owners of Quality Drugs say ethics and old-fashioned customer service have been the company’s building blocks for 47 years.
The pharmacy license for Quality Drugs, at 309 Central Ave. in Butner, was issued in May 1973. But by September 1974, then owners, Hart Richardson and his wife, decided to sell.
William “Bill” McKellar Jr. had spent several years working at independent pharmacies, before he and his wife, Edie, decided to start their own business.
The McKellars looked at several communities in the state, but happened to see an ad for a “Drugstore for sale, Butner, NC.”
The ad piqued their interest.
After talking with area residents and a pharmaceutical sales representative, the couple decided to have lunch at a former local favorite, Sybles Restaurant.
“We noticed there were quite a few people dressed in old farm clothes and we did not know why,” Bill McKellar said. They found out it was Farm Day at Murdoch Center.
“We were impressed with the friendliness of the town and the compassion of the Murdoch and John Umstead employees. At that time, most people that lived in the community were state employees.
“We committed to buying the pharmacy the very next day and the purchase was made in December 1974.”
Butner was a growing community with very few businesses, but the McKellars saw an opportunity to establish a family-owned business where they could make friends with their customers.
They did not want to be just business owners, they said, but wanted to be part of the community.
Many in Butner would drive to Creedmoor or Durham to pick up their medicine. The McKellars had to convince potential customers that they could provide the same medicine at the same price without the drive.
“Edie and I worked at Quality Drugs alone for five or six years before we took any days off,” McKellar said. “Our children, Ryan and Sarah, grew up in the store sleeping and eating in the back room and using the rest of the store for a ‘play area’. Customers would often play with the children while they waited for their prescriptions to be filled.”
The owners said more Butner residents started filling prescriptions at Quality Drugs.
“Our customers could not have been more loyal,” McKellar said. “People trusted us and we trusted people that could not afford to pay for their medicine until the ‘state pay day’. I am proud to say that no one ever left Quality Drugs without their medicine because they did not have the money.”
Eventually, the McKellars were able to take a little time off when they found a relief pharmacist that could reduce their work hours.
Jeff Teal came on board as a pharmacist in 2000. His wife Tracy, also a pharmacist, joined Quality Drugs a few years later.
After 34 years, the McKellars decided to retire and made arrangements for the Teals to own Quality Drugs.
“We were fortunate enough to find new owners whose values and work ethics were very similar to ours,” McKellar said.
Today, the Teals operate the business. They have a local staff: Lisa Wilson, Amy Catherine Proctor, Cheri Cash, Lynda Bailey, Jonathan Wall and Lynn Chung.
If you are lucky, you might catch McKellar behind the counter — the Teals still let him work one day a month.
“We always have two pharmacists at work Monday through Friday, so people can always have access to a professional to have a conversation about their medications,” Jeff Teal said.
“Being part of the community is so important to any business,” Teal said. “We still have a person that answers the phone and not a machine.”
Quality Drugs conducts information sessions at local churches and senior centers, sponsors South Granville Athletic Association, local schools and the Girl Scouts of America when they sell cookies as a way to give back to the community.
Quality Drugs offers flu shots, shingles shots, pneumonia shots and Tdap shots, as well as CBD products.
The Teals have installed a new computer system that maintains automatic inventory control, accepts electronic prescriptions and places refill reminder phone calls, among other tasks.
Quality Drugs is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.