End of an Era

David Sikes stands in the middle of The Little Drug Co. for the last time on Dec. 28 as the business closed that day.

It was a tough end to 2021 for two independent pharmacies.

The Little Drug Co. in New Smyrna Beach and Halifax Pharmacy in Port Orange closed in December.

Little Drug, founded in 1922, had been a beloved place to have lunch, grab an ice cream sundae, get medication, or shop for cards, medical equipment and many other items.

But Dec. 28, the store closed.

“I’ve been here almost 50 years” said David Sikes, owner and head pharmacist of Little Drug. “Closing down is hard for everybody. A lot of emotions going around; we’ve got customers coming in sad to see us go. It’s bittersweet to be able to retire. A lot of these folks you probably won’t ever see again.”

Part of why the store closed was Covid-19 caused people to stay inside and it is continuing with the new variants.

“People have learned to do things online and order online, get their prescriptions direct,” Mr. Sikes said. “Walk-in traffic has slowed down. Retail businesses are going through a change. All the big box places have their own mail order shipping through various overnight companies. They recognize this. The small stores just can’t keep up with that type of thing. People are getting where they don’t have to go out. All the small stores are really getting hit. It was getting tougher and tougher to keep open. “

He added “Little’s is probably one of three drugstores left with a soda fountain in the state. It’s downtown, it’s a full-service pharmacy with a lot of durable medical equipment, wound care, we’ve done a lot of special things for the special needs of the community. A lot of doctors recommended coming here because they knew they could get it here. We tried to service a lot of different people in different ways. You just don’t see these types of stores anymore.”

Mr. Sikes who lives in Edgewater and was born and raised in Volusia County said he is hoping to retire, which “may last a week or may last a while longer.”

His son Justin, who lives and New Smyrna Beach and co-owned the business, has some other things lined up. They hope their 18 employees can find other work, some of whom have worked with them for many years.

“People get like a family, and it’s interesting to see the family broke up,” he said. “It’s sad. It’s tough for everybody that we’re having to do this. Hopefully, things will work out for everybody. We all feel bad about the whole thing.”

Cathy Freeburn has worked at Little Drug Co. for 21 years.

“It’s very sad for me to see customers come in and cry,” Ms. Freeburn said. “The Sikes family are just like family to me. I’m going to find another job, I don’t know where, but it’s not going to be as good as this. The customers are awesome. A lot of good memories.”

Linda Kessler of Edgewater has been coming to The Little Drug Co. for years and was present on the last day.

“It’s really sad. A place that’s been here this long,” Ms. Kessler said. “I could always find anything I wanted from here, especially in the pharmacy. They would always say if you can’t find it, go to Little’s. You can always find it there. . . . I just wish everyone well and hope (the employees) can find other jobs.”

The Little Drug Company had a steady stream of customers on the last day (December 28) including members of the Sikes family who came to “get the last egg.”

David and Justin Sikes lease the building. Specific future plans for the site are not yet known although it is possible some type of fountain service will remain. Customer files are being transferred to the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in New Smyrna Beach.

In 1922, Bush-Little Drug Co. opened its doors on the north end of Canal Street. Two years later, Mr. Little bought the business from the Bush family, changed the name to Little Drug Co. and moved to a vacant building at 501 Canal St. In 1965, the business moved to the Victoria Theater building at 412 Canal St., where it has resided ever since. The building, which was built in 1923, had housed a popular movie theater into the late 1950s.

Halifax Pharmacy in Suite C4 at 3830 S. Nova Road also is closed with customer files transferred to Walgreens at 3805 S. Nova Road in Port Orange as of Dec. 8.

Halifax Pharmacy was a member of Health Mart pharmacies.

No comments were available from Walgreens, Health Mart or Halifax Pharmacy, but reportedly the owners wanted to retire.

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