Who Is the ‘Lewis’ of Lewis Drug?
To answer the essential question of ‘Who is the ‘Lewis’ of Lewis Drug?’, let’s take a little trip. Well, actually, more than a little trip. We’re hoping into the time machine here.
Ah, here we are. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 1942.
In many ways, it is not the best of times. What has become known as the Great Depression is still having it’s effects. It might be in the recent rear view mirror, but it lingers still. And then, just a few months ago, Pearl Harbor happened and now we’re into World War II. The country was more than jittery. This was going to be more than tough, this was going to be life changing.
The point is this: 1942 was perhaps not the absolute pristine time to start up a new business.
And so that is exactly what three guys did.
Jesse Lewis and George Fredrickson owned this new venture, and John Griffin was the store manager. Right there and then, smack dab in the year of 1942, it began: Lewis Drug.
The place was not only new, but innovative. While the term ‘self-serve’ is commonplace now, it was something shiny and new in 1942. In the years prior, if you just wanted a couple aspirin, you had to go to the counter and ask. This new ‘self-serve’ idea allowed customers to browse the items available to them. Earth shaking? Perhaps not, but ground breaking for sure.
It was just a couple years later, in 1944, that Jesse Lewis decided enough was enough and moved off to Omaha. And while Jesse left, his name didn’t. This new venture retained the name and continued right there on South Phillips in Sioux Falls.
It was in 1956 that they opened the new store at 35th and Minnesota. And while that is one busy street and intersection today, at the time it was a….cornfield! Yes, tis true, Sioux Falls has grown a bit in the last half century or so.
And the business has continued to grow…and grow…and grow. You can visit Lewis Drug at 12th and Kiwanis, 10th and Cliff, 41st and Minnesota, or 41st and Marion Road.
That one there at 41st and Marion is the reason I became curious about ‘Who was Lewis?’.
I spent three hours there on Saturday, during their 75th anniversary customer appreciation day. And wow, was I impressed! Oh, I’d been to Lewis Drug Stores over the years (but not 75!) and always had a great experience. But being there broadcasting for three hours, I discovered why this business, this name that has been around for 75 years, was still here:
Friendly customer service. Doesn’t that seem simple?
With all this technology, with all the whizz-bang devices, all the latest computer advances, I discovered that Lewis Drug is a place I want to do business because of the…people.
So while Jesse Lewis may have moved off back there in the long ago year of 1944, he left his name behind and with it, some great Sioux Falls stores, in addition to great stores in Iowa and Minnesota, too, 45 in all. Oh, and I got a lot of this information from the Lewis Drug website.
And now you know.
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