Idaho Life: Generations of prescriptions

In these days of Big Pharm we seem to have squeezed out what was once a staple of the small town: The corner drugstore. But not in Twin Falls, where prescriptions have been filled for generations at Sav-Mor on Main Street.

TWIN FALLS - Nearly every day for more than 50 years Gooding Street has been Dave Nelson's bicycle byway to work. It's a routine that may seem more secure than Dave's shoestring bike lock.

"This will stop a stupid thief," says Dave. "There's a few stupid ones out there."

His place of business is one of the oldest in Twin Falls.

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"This is our 80th year," he says.

Sav-Mor Drug started back in November 1938.

"And my dad came along in January of '39," recalls the 76-year-old.

When Al Nelson ran the store it was one of six pharmacies on Main Street. Now it's the only one left and remains a true family business with Dave's sister, Nancy, coming back to be a clerk in 2004.

"Best drugstore in town," Nancy laughs. "Always has been."

"I started working here in the 7th grade sweeping floors," says Dave, who bought the store from his father in 1974.

But even under the new/original ownership not a lot has changed during the decades. It's still one of the few Mom-and-Pop places left where you can find everything from puzzles to peppermint bark, tweezers to toys, shoe grease to greeting cards, and some colognes that haven't been in style since the 1970s.

There's even a Coke machine that's been kicking out glass bottles since the '50s. But no longer for just a nickel.

"Oh no," laughs Dave. "No, no."

Prices aren't the only things that have amplified recently.

With big box pharmacies being the norm, companies like Walgreens fill about 122,000 prescriptions on average in each of their stores each month. Sav-Mor puts out about 3,000, with some of those going to third-generation customers.

"That really is quite satisfying," Dave says.

With the population living longer thanks to more medicines, Dave is worried about losing too many customers.

"It is possible that there's enough work for all of us to keep busy."

And Dave plans to stay that way.

"And it appears that we're not done yet!" he says.

Dave says despite he and his wife not having any children of their own, he does have some ideas of keeping the drugstore open after he steps away. However, he has no plans to do so any time soon. He says he recently saw a story of a guy who still rides his bike at 100 years old, so he has at least 24 more years to go.

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