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Gov. Deal praises Gainesville pharmacy’s longevity

Riverside Pharmacy celebrates 60 years

POSTED: January 6, 2014 11:17 a.m.

Georgia first lady Sandra Deal chats Monday morning with Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch at the Riverside Pharmacy 60th Anniversary celebration.

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Riverside Pharmacy celebrated its 60th anniversary Monday with cake, nuts and speeches, including Gov. Nathan Deal praising the business for remaining steady in what’s an increasingly difficult climate.

“We are always blessed when we have small businesses that have been able to not only survive, but prosper and serve so many people in a community,” said Deal, who was at the event with first lady Sandra Deal. “This is remarkable in a day and time in which health care and health care delivery is changing so rapidly.

“The pressures on small businesses associated with health care have grown tremendously. I congratulate the current owners for their ongoing efforts to make sure that people have that personal touch that comes from being able to talk to their local pharmacist.”

To kick off the event, cofounder Jo Ann Adams and longtime employee and former owner Wayne Gee shared a giant pair of scissors to cut a red ribbon in frigid air outside the store at 935 Green St.

Inside the warm building, a brief ceremony was held recognizing the store’s history.

“Sixty years is phenomenal — it really is,” Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said. “I remember ... we’d come here and charge stuff to our parents and (then) we rode our bikes to middle school. There’s a lot of good memories around.”

He then read a proclamation honoring Adams and Gee for their work in the community.

Adams and Charlie Johnson first opened Riverside on Jan. 6, 1954, when the store was beside Green’s Grocery, 971 Riverside Drive.

The store remained at that location for about 50 years.

Gee joined the staff in 1964, becoming one of the store owners. In the early 1980s, he took full ownership.

He sold the store in 2010 to Scottie Barton — who started his Riverside career in the pharmacy’s free delivery service — and Gee’s son, Stephen.

Wayne Gee told the group the last governor to visit the store was Jimmy Carter, who was in town looking for a local judge’s house.

“He went on to become president of the United States. Maybe the same thing will happen to you,” he told Deal, drawing a burst of laughter from the crowd.

“Let’s hope not,” Deal said, smiling.

The governor posed for pictures with employees, as well as Adams and Wayne Gee.

With guests also mingling while grabbing refreshments, the occasion was a happy one for Wayne Gee, who stood beaming near Adams.

“In this day and time, competition is so keen that you have to change constantly to keep up, to provide service for your customer that the other guy doesn’t have,” he said. “It will continue to be a challenge, but it’s a challenge we look forward to.”

One way to do that is to stay personally connected to customers.

“I try to call them by name when I greet them,” Wayne Gee said. “They are the ones that put bread on your table. You ought to know who they are.”

Adams, receiving handshakes and hugs as people passed by, said, “Everybody’s been so nice all through these many years.”

The business turning 60 “is hard to believe,” she added. “I don’t know if I have a fondest (memory). They’re all pretty good.

“I have been blessed in so many ways — the drugstore and my family. I’m OK.”


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