Customers band together to save Midtown drugstore

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Customers of drugstore that has become an institution in Midtown Memphis are banding together to prevent it from closing.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a small group gathered inside Wiles-Smith Drugstore on Union Avenue.  They looked like customers, but they were actually there for a different purpose.

"A lot of us depend on Charlie," Martin Edwards said.

The group was there to see Pharmacist Charlie Smith, the 40-year owner of the drugstore.  Smith has been in the news a lot recently after his drugstore was burglarized four different times in six months.

Smith carries insurance, but not all his claims have been covered, leaving him frustrated, worn out, and contemplating closing.

Long time customers just can't stomach that idea.

"I couldn't wake up thinking it's not here," customer Ham Smythe said.

So the group that met Wednesday hatched an idea, and started a fund to try to keep Wiles-Smith in business.

They've already collected some money.

"We're going to keep this institution, preserve this institution, and preserve Charlie Smith," Edwards said.

The group showed up to give Charlie the news, and to tell him they appreciate him, and his drugstore.

"I'm just speechless," Smith said. "I could tell you about my break-ins again without any trouble, but I don't know what to say about this. These people...this is why I've been here 50 years."

Charlie said he's not closing - not with longtime customers now turned longtime friends like the group that met Wednesday in his store.

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