Do Pharmacists Sell Farms: A Trip Inside the Corner Drugstore

Do Pharmacists Sell Farms: A Trip Inside the Corner Drugstore

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The corner drugstore used to be a prescription for happiness in America. Sweethearts met at the soda fountain after school, kids picked out penny candy, and when you needed a certain medicine refilled, it was a friend and neighbor who did the work. But with the arrival of shopping malls and national discount chains, the Main Street drugstore has almost disappeared from the American landscape.

In Do Pharmacists Sell Farms?, author Vince Staten provides a folksy and funny account of the social history of pharmacies and their products, along with some sober and revealing lessons about marketing and business. What Staten, a freelance writer, did for hardware stores in a previous book, Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?, he does for the corner drugstore in this book. Instead of zeroing in on hammers and nails, Staten takes an intriguing look at the evolution of the drugstore products we now take for granted, such as sanitary napkins and toothpaste. For example, did you know it was an accident that helped make Ivory soap so popular? One day, a Procter & Gamble worker goofed and mixed in too much air to a batch of the famous soap. Some mishap. The customers loved the way the soap popped up in their bath water--they wanted more of "the soap that floats," something that P & G was happy to supply.

In many ways, the corner drugstore grew up with America's increasingly consumer- and market-driven economy. But it has also become victim to the same forces, with the rise of McDonald's leading to the decline of the drugstore soda fountain. While the book is a funny valentine to corner drugstores, it isn't a "With Deepest Sympathy" card (yes, greeting cards are another item Staten describes). As he concludes, "This is the final chapter in this book. But it's only the first chapter in the saga of the corner drugstores, the opening act in a struggle to see if any semblance of drugstores as we knew them and loved them can survive." --Dan Ring


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  1. E. M. Rucki says


    Enjoyable light reading, this book has many little known facts that will astound professionals as well as the general public. Vince Staten remembers well a slowly fading side of Pharmacy. Slightly superficial, but not meant to be anything but entertaining. All in all, excellent.

  2. John P McCauley Jr says


    I was very dissapointed with this book. I suppose I expected a better, intelectual history of the corner drugstore, but what I read was a poor and sophmoric diatribe. Please do not waste your money. Mr Staten has written better. I suppose I will need to check his other work at the library before I purchase again. Also, do not be deceived, “Did Trojans use trojans” is the same nonesense in paperback form.