Sunday, November 18, 2012

Railroad Drug owner-pharmacist prefers small town

By Justin Wright
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

An old saying goes, “Everybody dies famous in a small town.” This comes from the notion that in a small, tight-knit community that everyone knows everything about all the people in town. Sometimes such intimate knowledge can be a good thing, while at other times it can be something to despise.

This leads many people to leave small towns and pursue other, supposedly bigger, opportunities in a place where no one knows their name and everyone is out of their business. But some who get away from the next-of-kin setting realize that being from a small town and knowing all about what is going on was just fine with them, because they were a name to somebody and not just another face in the crowd.

Knowing people on a first-name basis is one in which many small-town businesses take great pride, and on which they base their level of work and patronage to their community. This is how Railroad Drug owner Ken Glass, above, operates his business day to day.

“Running a pharmacy in a community like Midway is very personable,” Glass said. “I'm on a first name basis with all of my patients and fellow business owners.”

Railroad Drug is on Main Street in the heart of Midway and offers a nostalgia that many small town pharmacies once had. From the old-time soda fountain to meals served at your request, this drug store is a “blast from the past,” as one might put it, keeping in close touch with its small-town roots.

Glass grew up near Morehead, earned his pharmacy degree from the University of Kentucky and has lived in Midway for nine years while working for other pharmacies.

“I had always wanted to open my own pharmacy, and finally I just built up the nerve to do it.  Plus, I had grown tired of the chain-store setting,” said Glass, who worked for a two chain pharmacies and an independently owned store. 

How does running his pharmacy differ from running one in a city such as Lexington or Louisville? “In a community such as Midway, you know everyone,” he replied. “My patients aren't co-pays or Social Security numbers to me. I know them. I know their children, their parents, and their grandparents. It's very rewarding to have that kind of relationship with the people that patronize my store; you just can’t find this in a bigger city.”

This is the life for Glass, who has no wish to return to a bigger establishment where pharmacists don’t see the same people every day.

“No contest,” he said. “I would hate not knowing my patients and in fact, have hated that exact issue in the past at previous workplaces. If I ever open another pharmacy in a bigger city, I would like to bring that kind of personal touch to it, so it seemed like it was a smaller community to the people who filled their prescriptions there.”

Stores such as Railroad Drug are keeping the tradition of down-home alive, one customer at a time, and offering hope that they and their like will be found in small towns for many years to come.

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