WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (1/16/13) - Bell’s Drug Store in Sebree isn’t just another local business, it's a cornerstone in the city of Sebree. It is a place known to school children and the elderly. In its own special way Bell’s Drug Store is a throwback to the 1940’s and 50’s, when things were simpler and all you needed was an ice cold Coke or a malt from your local soda fountain.
Soda fountain. That means something different to some people than it does to others. To many people these days a soda fountain is that machine at the gas station where you can choose your brand, stick your cup in and fill it up.
Others can still remember the soda fountain as it used to be. A place where you could go and watch the soda jerk mix up your Cherry Coke the old fashioned way. Or you could order a malt, a milkshake or an orangeade.
For nearly as long as anyone can remember Bell’s Drugs has been the daily hangout for kids on their way home from Sebree Elementary School.
“It fills up every afternoon right at 3:15,” said Donna Adams, who just took over the business on January 3, 2013, following the retirement of long time owner Jim Bell. “Sometimes they’re still here at 4:00.”
The business began in 1910 as Melton and Mosby Drug. Carol and Francis Bell bought the drug store in 1946 and renamed it Bell’s Drug Store.
Jim Bell was only three months out of college when his father passed away in 1972 and he came back to take over. He ran the business with his mother, and then later his late wife, Rhonda.
“Dad was the pharmacist,” said Sara Fuqua, Jim Bell’s daughter and the manager of Bell’s Drug Store. “There was a doctor's office next door, where
mom worked as a nurse. She worked there and then would come over here and count pills.”
For a business so ingrained in the fabric of a city, change is sometimes a bad thing. New owners often mean remodeling, upgrades and a change of the faces you see when you walk in the door.
But Adams, who has worked part time as a pharmacist at Bell’s Pharmacy for more than 10 years, has no plan to make any big changes. Not even the name is going to change.
“Everyone is staying,” she said. “All the same people will still be here. The only real change I might make is adding a second phone line.”
Adams’ husband David, a pharmacist at Bluegrass Pharmacy in Madisonville, recently came in to help out. Donna said he really enjoyed her connection with her customers.
“People would come in to fill their prescriptions and ask to talk to me,” she said proudly. “We’re not like some of the big pharmacies, here you can still speak face-to-face with the pharmacist. I like that. I want to be able to tell people if the color of their medicine changed. It's their medicine, they should know!”
J-E News Editor
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