The Right Prescription

Groves put their own touch
on two area pharmacies

The couple says they want to
maintain community service

By Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(January 2012) – Pharmacists Erik and Jennifer Grove not only provide their customers with personal service, but also their communities with a sense of continuity and tradition. The couple owns Madison Apothecary at 835 W. Main St. in Madison, Ind., and Bluegrass Drug Center in the heart of Bedford, Ky.
Erik explains of their Madison Apothecary, “This half of the store was a drug store back into the 1880s. As far was we know, it’s the oldest continually operating pharmacy in Indiana.”

Erik Grove

Photo by Lela Jane Bradshaw

Erik Grove and his wife, Jennifer,
offer a large selection of wines
at their Madison Apothecary
in downtown Madison.

And when the couple acquired their second drug store, the former Morgan Drug in Bedford, a few months ago, they were buying a business that had been operating in the community for almost 60 years. They renamed it Bluegrass Drug Center, ushering in a new era for the longtime business in the heart of town.
In both cases, the Groves are striving to honor the traditions that made the businesses successful, while bringing their own ideas and innovations to the stores.
One new addition to the Madison Apothecary, the large selection of wines offered, actually has its roots in the early days of the store. When the Groves took over the store in 2006, they learned that it had a liquor license dating back before Prohibition. When the store’s soda fountain was struggling to attract customers, the Groves decided to remove that aspect of the store and focus on wine.
“I had always liked wine – it became a side hobby,” Grove explains.
Nearly two years ago Grove became a certified wine sommelier, so he is able to offer expert advice when a customer comes in looking for just the right wine. The Madison Apothecary stocks more than 750 different labels, and Grove is able to special order ones they don’t have in stock if there is a particular request. He says that the wine section of the store “has been a really nice side business.”
While celebrating their fifth year of owning Madison Apothecary, the Groves branched out and purchased their second store. They bought the Morgan Drug store last July.
Grove explains that “the opportunity was there to purchase the store since (previous owner and pharmacist) Robert Yowler was looking to step down.”
While the Groves will be putting their own touches on their new business, including a remodeled interior and expanded services for diabetic patients, one thing that will remain the same will be the old-fashioned style soda fountain.
“It’s kind of become a fixture in the community,” Grove says with a smile. The fountain offers milk shakes and ice cream, and perhaps more unexpectedly, Coca-Colas for only a nickle. Grove said that he and his wife are considering the needs of the town as they ponder additional changes for the store.
Now that the Country Store grocery in Bedford recently closed, Grove said that they are looking at the option of signing the store up to be part of the WIC program so that those who used that service would not have to travel as far to use those benefits.
Though Grove spent a few years working for a large chain drug store, he says he appreciates the freedom to “do my own thing” that his independent stores offer. As an independent drug store, Madison Apothecary is able to offer “more specific service – we tend to know our customers better.”
Grove continues by saying that the store is able to provide the community with “quite a bit more services” than the chains noting that Jennifer offers advanced diabetes education, and that Madison Apothecary is able to set up in-house charge accounts to assist customers in managing their prescription costs. This commitment to individual attention is certain to help the couple be welcome in Bedford.
Both 34, the Groves met during their first year of pharmacy school at Creighton University in Nebraska. Jennifer is a second generation pharmacist, as the daughter of pharmacist Thomas Beringer, who owns and manages Beringer Drug Store in Warsaw, Ky. Thomas Beringer opened his first drug store in 1981 in Covington, Ky. In 1995, he moved to Warsaw and opened Beringer Drug Store. Jennifer described her father’s “influence on the community” as a motivating factor in her decision to pursue a career in pharmacy.
She started working there at an early age, helping customers at the register while still in kindergarten and wearing a strawberry shortcake smock. She continued to work at the store during her high school years, and after college she spent nearly a decade as the store’s fulltime pharmacist.
Erik is a Nebraska native who worked a few years at a large chain pharmacy before deciding “to do my own thing” and own his own pharmacy.
Recently, Jennifer cut back her work hours to have the couple’s first child, a son born Dec. 17.
After taking over two long-standing pharmacies, Erik says he is open to running yet another store someday in the future. Their third store, however, will likely be a bit of a break in their own tradition of purchasing existing businesses. Grove says he hopes that the next drug store that they own will be one that they “start from scratch.”

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