High Country Info

Boone Drug

Boone Drug Company, located in historic Boone, NC, was founded by Dr. George Kelly Moose in 1919. Moose had studied law at Georgetown University, graduated and passed the North Carolina Bar Exam. So what made him go from law to pharmaceuticals?

It is not exactly clear, but one man may have had something to do with it. G.K. (as he was called by friends) met John R. McNairy, who owned a pharmacy in Lenoir.

McNairy was in search of a business partner and somehow convinced Moose to go to pharmacy school at George Washington University. While he was in school, he was a part-time assistant to various pharmacists in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Moose returned to North Carolina with his pharmacy degree and together with McNairy, established the Boone Drug Company in 1919. Shortly after, G.K. took over full ownership to allow McNairy to return to his own drug store in Lenoir. Moose soon became a prominent distributor of drugs to the area. Boone Drug was your typical pharmacy and soda fountain; a place to greet your neighbors and bring your kids to enjoy vanilla cokes and giant cinnamon sticks.

For 50 years, George set the standards for friendly, honest service and made Boone Drug a place customers looked forward to visiting. Customers adored him for his good sense of humor and dependable service. People walked from miles away to get their medicine from Boone Drug. One man even walked 15 miles from what used to be a small community called Sampson, next to Lenoir, every time he needed medicine. Moose rented the second story of his building to a group of doctors who formed the Hagaman Clinic. There was J.B. Hagaman Sr., his son, J.B. Hagaman Jr. and their nurse, Miss Mary Krider. There was also a well known dentist named Dr. William Matheson who practiced upstairs from Boone Drug. These doctors offices meant constant traffic through the drug store and great business for Dr. Moose. He would keep his drug store open until each doctor had seen his last patient. This was sometimes very late at night.

Boone Drug was incorporated in 1939. That same year, one of Boone Drug's future co-owners, Wayne Richardson, came to work for Boone Drug. Richardson had worked for John R. McNairy in Lenoir, fell sick, and had to leave work for a year. He eventually made his way to Boone where he sought employment with Boone Drug. McNairy called on Moose and asked that he give Wayne Richardson a job. In 1947, Moose sold half of the ownership to Wayne Richardson and his brother, O.K. Richardson, who was a pharmacist at Elk Pharmacy in Elkin. O.K. then came to work at Boone Drug.

Wayne Richardson had wonderful memories of his years at Boone Drug and working with Dr. Moose. He remarked that in having worked with G.K. for close to 40 years, they never had a cross word, although, there was a lot of kidding going on, especially since George was a Republican and Wayne was a Democrat. Wayne also remembers that Moose never turned anyone down who needed medicine.