, Corbin, KY

January 11, 2012

Cottongim Drug closes doors

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Carl Keith Greene / Staff Writer

A downtown Corbin landmark has closed.

Cottongim Drug, the last “drug store” on Main Street, closed Monday.

Prescriptions on file at the store may be filled at Sav-Rite Family Pharmacy on Master Street.

J.C. Cottongim bought the business from Skinny Eaton in 1933.

And for the past 20 years, Terry C. Rollins and his father, Donald T. Rollins, have operated the store.

And before that, Donald Rollins got the store in 1959 from J.C. Cottongim. Terry Rollins’ uncle Gene came into the business with Donald Rollins.

On the second level of the two-story building, the uncle took care of the financial matters.

The second floor has been closed for several years — at least 30, Terry Rollins said.

And that second floor held merchandise such as cameras and film, toys, small appliances, coasters, plates, snacks, food, cleaning supplies, notions, novelties and pipes.

Several years ago the upper level closed.

“J.C. Cottongim and his wife, Cleo, in the 1930s, had a snack bar up at the front. Of course they didn’t cook but had tuna fish sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches. When that moved out a big cigar humidor went up there. So we sold cigars, cigarettes, candy,” Terry Rollins said.

By the time Terry Rollins was working at the store with his family it became a Rexall Drug agency. He estimated that the drug store had been a Rexall story before 1930 when Cottongim owned it.

In 1903, Louis Liggett, a pharmacist and colleague, decided to have America’s first patented medicine available through neighborhood drug stores.

After that Rexall franchises became available. Franchises are no longer available since the late 1970s or early 1980s when the company went belly up, said Terry Rollins.

At that point, Cottingim’s went to a Good Neighbor Pharmacy, franchise.

“Rather than pay Good Neighbor each month, we just changed to Cottongim Corner Pharmacy,” he added.

In December, Donald Rollins and Fred Cox, both pharmacists, fell ill and were unable to work, he said. Rollins had been there since he bought the place and Cox for 40 years or more, said Terry.

“Our customers were family, and I want to thank them,” Terry Rollins said.

The customer base reaches back as far as grandparents and perhaps great-grandparents who have had their prescriptions filled at Cottongim all those years. Now their children and grandchildren have been buying at the store, he explained.

It’s been a real family store through the employees as well, Terry Rollins said.

At 52 years old this year, Terry said he’s been in the store for about 51 of those.

And for the past 30 years has worked there constantly and eventually was president of Cottongim Drug Company.

He said the store is probably the oldest existing independent pharmacy in Corbin.

At one time there were three of those stores, Cottongim, a Walgreen’s agency drug store called Huff’s, and another downtown drug store, Bondurant Drug.