Wiles-Smith drug store to close after 70 years

Wiles Smith drug store to close after 70 years
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - Wiles-Smith Drug Store has been open for 70 years, but it's always been about much more than prescription plans and co-pays.

Charlie Smith has been filling prescriptions at his Midtown pharmacy store for the past 52 years.

"This is practically the only job in pharmacy I've ever had," Smith said.

But the charm at Wiles-Smith Drug Store is its old fashioned soda fountain where customers say you can get the best shake in town and make new friends.

"We discuss everything from birth to death, divorce, [politics] ... I try to stay away from that a little bit," Smith said.

The conversation was a sad one on Friday. Wiles-Smith Drug Store is closing.

"I'm sad to hear this is going so, I thought I'd come out eat look around and have a shake," customer Andre Duval said.

It opened in 1944, the year Casablanca won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Flash forward to 2014, you can still pick up a tube of Brycreem and a bar of shaving soap. Smith came to work while he was still in pharmacy school and bought the place from Paul Wiles 46 years ago.

Now, he's ready for a break, from the insurance industry, the long hours, and a string of robberies.

"It was about three years ago now, two of them in one week. They came through the wall," he said.

Memphis will probably never see the likes of Wiles-Smith Drug Store: a place where the signs are still written by hand and the best medicine is the man behind the counter.

The sweet spot in all of this is as Charlie Smith's inventory dwindles down they'll continue to make shakes and sandwiches right up until the doors close for good in November.

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