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Submitted by WWAY on Thu, 07/03/2008 - 4:04pm.

On your way to the Brunswick County beaches, you might pass through a small town called Shallotte. On its main street lies an old family business, that's getting ready for the changing times. Elizabeth Thomas of Thomas Drugs said, "We've tried to grow our products and service line with the growth of the community while keeping the same small town, extremely small town, home feel to the store." Thomas Drugs has been a staple in Shallotte for more than 50 years. It is a pharmacy with family values, and a place where everybody knows your name. Elizabeth said. "I know many, many of my customers and their family members -- and their cats, their dogs, their goldfish and their grandchildren." Now, three generations later, all of the Thomas kids are involved in the family business. Edward Thomas' grandfather opened Thomas Drugs back in 1958. He said if only his grandfather could see it now. "I think he'd be proud," said Edward. Next door to the original pharmacy is a newer version of Thomas Drugs. Elizabeth Thomas opened that store in 2000. It sells medical equipment, like wheelchairs and oxygen. Elizabeth said, "We're from Brunswick County, my family is, and we've lived here many, many, many years. The reason we felt like it was really important is because there are a lot of medical equipment companies, but very few in Brunswick County." To make sure Shallotte residents never have to leave Brunswick County to get what they need, the youngest Thomas sister, Hope, opened her shop, Ragland's Gifts, next to her siblings in November. Hope's parents lived in the house where her shop is now, when they first got married. "We restored the home back to the way that it used to be. So we decided to bring gifts in here, and wanted to offer the community a little something different," said Hope. Ragland's Gifts is the most modern offspring of Thomas Drugs. Under the display of funky gifts and treasures, lies the home where the Thomas family got its start. Elizabeth said, "The thanks go to them because we are very comfortable in this business and in this industry. Because we were born into it, and we are still in it." "It's a blessing to be able to work with family, because we are able to work in a cohesive relationship, so when we have a problem we can go to each other," said Hope. As you drive through the town built on a river, sitting side, by side, by side, you will see the Thomas family legend, and a quintessential part of Shallotte's history. "As far as the past, present and future of Thomas drugs, we are absolutely blessed to be a member of the past, certainly grateful to be a member of the present, and very excited about being a member of the future," said Elizabeth. Thomas drugs is a great example of a family run business that hasn't changed its values with the times. They still refer to all of their customers by name -- keeping its small town feel even today.

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