Family owned Abilene pharmacy celebrates 80 years of business

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Barnes & Williams Drug Center has been in business for 80 years . To celebrate that success, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Red Coats, the Abilene Preservation League and employees along with longtime customers gathered to honor this legacy and commitment to preserving history.

Before the big named pharmacies and during a time when these stores were more than just a place to pick up a prescription, Barnes & Williams Drug Center opened for business in 1939.

“Jack Barnes heard there was going to be a Camp Barkeley coming to Abilene. He owned a pharmacy in Breckenridge but thought it would be a good business move to come to Abilene,” Former owner Larry Pittman said.

The store relocated only once, to the corner of Hickory and North 7th, where it’s been serving customers for the last 75 years.

“My parents came here so of course I came here too,” Longtime Customer Jean Fanning said.

Fanning has been a regular since the early days.

“I was here yesterday,” Fanning said.

She came back for the anniversary celebration the very next day. She has always been a loyal customer, even when new owners came in.

“One of the first pieces of advice that he gave me when we bought the store in 1966 was ‘Larry don’t ever move from this location,'” Pittman said.

In 80 years, of course some has changed.

“You know we were here before medicare and medicaid and people said that would ruin the independent pharmacies,” Pittman said.

While things may look a little different behind the counter, they’ve always kept this pharmacy close to its roots.

“Anyone I hired I always told them ‘you’re going to have a family,” Pittman said.

Pittman did pass it on to the next generation. His great nephew Jordan Tally is ready to continue the family legacy.

“Continue to do what we’ve always done and provide quality one of a kind kind of next level service to our patients,” Tally said.

It’s the sense of home Barnes & Williams gives to its customers that continues to keep the doors open.

“We’re friends. They’re my friends,” Fanning said.

The Abilene Preservation League presented Barnes & Williams owners with the 2019 Heritage Business award honoring them for keeping the original facade and preserving this historic building for the last 75 years.

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