New owners settle into Hayes Drugs business
By CAROLINE CARMICHAEL / Staff Writer
Hayes Drug and Gift Shop hit a slight speed bump when former owner Danny Hayes announced retirement, but under new owners Jimmy and Karen Crane, the store is picking up speed once more.
Still, Jimmy Crane said, “it is a work in progress.”
The Cranes are longtime friends of Hayes, their friendship dating back to more than 30 years ago when Jimmy Crane graduated pharmacy school at Samford University in Birmingham.
“I used to work relief down here on the weekends in this store,” Crane said. “I never knew I’d end up owning it one day.”
Hayes remains a part-time employee, which has smoothened the transition, according to Crane.
Until Jan. 5 when the couple officially took the wheel as owners of the Jemison store, the Cranes had been managing a single pharmacy they owned in downtown Ensley.
The Cranes now own both stores, commuting from their Indian Springs home to maintain personable operations at both.
Jimmy Crane said a man named Chris Barwick will soon enter a partnership with him.
As part of their aim to foster personable interaction with customers and ensure business efficiency, the Cranes have been in the process of making adjustments and modifications to the store.
“We have an automated robot that fills prescriptions to speed up wait time; it’s just been installed,” Jimmy Crane said.
For efficiency’s sake, the store has increased the number of cash registers to collect signatures electronically.
“We’re really hoping to do these things not to be more impersonal, but to be more personal,” he said. “The technology allows me to step away to come talk to you.”
Other changes include a new storefront sign and outside lighting, a TV and waiting area, as well as the addition of stylish apparel to the merchandise.
Two recently completed dressing rooms are stationed in the back of the store, ready for shoppers.
Challenges were inevitable, yet several have been surprising.
“Really the biggest challenges have been coming into a new year, new ownership, with a lot of insurance changes,” Jimmy Crane said. “It didn’t used to be that way.”
But the rewards have outweighed the challenges.
“Honestly, from years ago working down here, I love this area,” Crane said. “It’s been fun, it’s been hard.”
The Cranes are only the second owners of the drug store, which was first opened in September 1977 — 40 years ago.
They hope to watch it thrive another 40 years.
The Cranes said that their vision for the future of the store includes continuing the gift section, offering beauty products and more competitive pricing on a broader selection of items, providing a 30-foot dollar section with “buy six items, get a seventh one free,” and ultimately operate a vaccination program from a consultation station to be constructed near the prescription counter.
The program would “provide vaccinations [and] free copies of Blue Cards for kids who want to go back to school,” Jimmy Crane said.
The Cranes welcome feedback from the community as they settle into a new business as usual.
For more information about Hayes Drug and Gift Shop, visit its Facebook page or call (205) 688-2032.