Did you know one of the oldest pharmacies in North Carolina -- and quite possibly the entire country -- is right here in our area? When John McNeill became a pharmacist in the 1940s he says there were only four different kinds of drugs available for prescription -- penicillin wasn't even one of them. McNeill said, "My father said we used to practice witchcraft. Early we would use all plant drugs and so forth." Now, more than 60 years later, John Sr. is an expert on the thousands of drugs available at his grandfather's business, McNeill's Pharmacy. As the medical field advanced so did McNeill's business savvy. "Dad's father and grandfather started out with the barter system. They got paid in cows and chickens and eggs for medicine," McNeill Jr. said. "Now it's an insurance-based system so that's been a dramatic change in the way business is operated." While other family operated drugstores have closed because of the influx of chain pharmacies, the McNeill's credit the community for helping their store flourish. "We've tried very hard to be a part of this small community and be a leader and just be a part of this small town," McNeill said. "You come to work and you're among friends and the joy of sharing life with your fellow man is the charm of the small town." The McNeills say as long as people need medicine, they plan to keep the business running. "We plan to run our business into perpetuity." Along with possibly being the oldest pharmacy, John McNeill Sr. may also be the oldest practicing licensed pharmacist in the country. He says his business has become a family legacy -- a fifth generation of the McNeill family is going to school to become a pharmacist.
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