Wender & Roberts Celebrates 100 Years in Buckhead

 

2018 marks 100 years in business for local independent pharmacy Wender & Roberts. A lot has changed in the past century. These days most of us get our prescriptions from chains where we also buy our groceries, or we order our medications online and have them shipped to our front door. And yet, despite the advances since 1918, both technical and cultural, Wender & Roberts continues to prosper in the West Paces Ferry Shopping Center.

The storefront is rather unassuming. Aside from a retro sign, it is easy to overlook this historical gem tucked away between storefronts. Inside, the shop is very much alive. Clerks at the front register make small talk as they ring up customers, and at the back a wide and bright pharmacy counter almost always has a line of people waiting to fill their prescriptions or to ask questions about their dosage and side effects. A sitting area allows for mingling among those waiting to pick up their medications, while customers mill about the store shopping for everything from cosmetics, to first aid supplies, to kitschy decor.

The energy in the store is a comforting one. Those within its four walls are friendly and chatty with one another, and a sense of community can be felt among the pharmacy staff, clerks, and customers. Behind the counter of the pharmacy it’s quite common to see a familiar face: Melanie Germany, head pharmacist. Having worked at Wender & Roberts for more than thirty years, she knows practically everyone who comes through the doors.

“She knows absolutely everybody by name, and not only that, she knows their mama, she knows their daughter,” recalled Daniel Sierra. “She is an amazing individual, when I have a question and something I need to have answered… I call her, she’s it. She is it.” Known for her characteristic cheer, friendliness, and patience, Melanie’s skills are rooted in a vast understanding of medicine and a lifetime of working in pharmacies.

Melanie Germany laughs with a customer at the pharmacy counter

At age 12 in her small hometown of Demopolis, Alabama, Melanie took a job working the soda counter of the local pharmacy. “So, you start off at the soda counter and you eventually get to the back pharmacy counter,” she explained. She attended pharmacy school at Auburn University, and after graduation began working in a hospital pharmacy. One day the manager of Wender & Roberts called her out of the blue and offered her a job.

You see, while working at the hospital, Melanie had been training students from Mercer University, one of whom was familiar with Wender & Roberts and mentioned they were seeking a pharmacist. The student recommended Melanie. She found a home there and has been happy to work amongst the pill bottles under the warm glow of fluorescent lights ever since.

While the city outside has certainly changed a lot since Wender & Roberts was originally founded in 1918, the pharmacy’s core values have remained the same. The pharmacy was started by William Max Wender and Marvin Roberts, and their first location opened at 3073 Peachtree Road just a few steps from the Buckhead Theatre. The store featured a classic soda counter, sandwiches, and candies, and was a popular hang out for teens on dates before and after shows. Even today, they aim to serve and care for their community’s health and well-being.

Check out these cool vintage photos sent to us by Wender & Roberts:

The Wender & Roberts legacy in Buckhead is storied, with many generations of families coming through the doors. Over the years the pharmacy has filled many roles for the community thanks to their delivery service which helps for those with limited mobility and customers with small children. Once, many years ago, they even fielded a call from someone who had a mule get loose on their property, and a pharmacist dutifully left the store to corral the animal back into its enclosure.

The current location has been open since the 1960s when the shopping plaza was built, and there are two more locations in Roswell and Dallas. The pharmacy’s current owner, Loren Pierce, bought the pharmacy from the Wender estate back in 2011. Pierce has a unique appreciation for small town pharmacies, and I asked what made pharmacies like Wender & Roberts so special. “I can philosophize that forever for ya. I’m sentimental to independent community pharmacies. Once you experience it, it really gets embedded in your DNA,” Loren said. The goal is to be a part of the community and take care of the health of the community in a real and practical way.

Owner Loren Pierce

“Your health is your most important possession, and if we can help to improve the health of our community, that’s what we are really all about.”

“Your health is your most important possession, and if we can help to improve the health of our community, that’s what we are really all about.”

“To be a successful independent pharmacy you have to be in touch with your customers,” said Daniel. He has been working with Loren as Director of Marketing and Management for Pierce Pharmacy Management, which oversees this pharmacy Daniel, a transplant from Brooklyn, says that having a relationship with a family pharmacist is a concept that sometimes gets forgotten in younger generations. “They don’t know the difference until they experience it,” he continued. “They think I’ll go to CVS because I can also get my frozen pizza there.” But for those who frequent independent pharmacies like Wender & Roberts, a trip to the store is about more than convenience. It’s a community centered around health and connection.

Stop by the North Buckhead store at 1262 West Paces Ferry Road to experience Wender & Roberts for yourself. You can also visit their website or give them a call at (404) 237-7551. We think you’ll see for yourself why this historic business is still thriving after 100 years in business.

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