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Berry's move nears completion

J.H. Osborne • Jun 19, 2017 at 4:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Berry’s Pharmacy will soon open at its new, larger, free-standing downtown location, a less than 2.5-mile drive from the small storefront it has occupied since David Berry founded it nearly 50 years ago.

But the whole Berry’s family plans to make longtime customers, as well as new ones, as welcome at the new store as “Dave” and his longtime staff have made them feel throughout his career. Donna Finley has been behind the counter at Berry’s for more than 40 years and Dave and his family laud her contribution to the pharmacy’s welcoming atmosphere. 

“Our goal is to continue the traditional focus on customer service that my dad made his core business principle,” says Jennifer Berry Bingham, David’s daughter. “We know he is a one-of-a-kind and the bar he set is a high one when it comes to meeting our customers needs — and doing with his personal, friendly way. We are dedicated to working to maintain his level of customer service.”

Bingham, with Berry’s wholehearted support, has been heading up the relocation. It wasn’t a long-term plan. But the building Berry’s has occupied a space in since 1969 was sold a few months ago.

Berry recently met us at the new location for a sneak peek at the just-installed counters and display shelving. It’s sleek, modern and open. 

“Moving the store after all these years wasn’t something I expected,” Berry said. “But now that it’s happening, I see it as great opportunity. I couldn’t be happier with the new location. It’s a prime spot and I think our old customers will love the easier access and so many more parking spaces. And we’re going to have a drive-thru, which will be a big plus for a lot of our customers. And the new store is bigger, a lot more room. I’m very excited about it.”

It’s the first time in all his years owning the pharmacy that he’ll have his very own office. Although he won’t be working behind the counter, Berry looks forward to making regular appearances at the new store to visit with customers and friends — and (he says with a laugh), keep an eye on things.

“I’ve been helping with the business for several years,” Bingham said. “That already showed me a different side to Dad than I had seen as simply his daughter. I always knew he was dedicated to work. Being here I quickly saw the dedication is actually to his customers. His concern and compassion is genuine. It’s not just a business to him. I — all of us here — are going to do everything we can to live up to that expectation. We know we’ve got big shoes to fill. Organizing the move has brought me an even deeper look at the history of the business and an even greater appreciation for the role he, and Berry’s Pharmacy, have played in the lives of so many people. I’ve been going through things cleaning out the soon-to-be old store. He .kept everything. Lots of notes to him from customers for helping them. His own notes of this or that customer’s special issues. And people have been coming in because they heard we’re moving and they want to reminisce. Dad looks forward to them visiting him at the new store. And all of us working at Berry’s are going to strive to deliver the same compassion, empathy and understanding Dad has to each and every customer who comes in the store.”

There’s a third generation in the business as well. Berry’s granddaughter Jessica Bingham is working behind the counter at the pharmacy while studying pre-pharmacy in college.

“The time I’ve gotten to spend working with him made me connect with my grandfather in a whole new way,” Jessica said as the two looked over new shelving installed in the new location. “I’ve tried to watch and learn all I could, especially in his relationships with customers.”

In addition to the availability of a drive-thru window for drop-offs and pick-ups, another expected-to-be-popular addition will be limited home delivery.

And if you need an ATM, you're covered. Applachian Federal Community Credit Union's drive-up ATM will continue to operate in the last lane of the building's drive-thru area.

Until then, the Berry's pharmacy family - including pharmacists Carrie Sweet and Anna Greene Sawyer - will continue to serve you at 1717 Fort Henry Drive. You can reach them by phone at 423-247-3124. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays, and closed on Sundays.

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