MONTGOMERY – “Adams Drugs competes with national chains and somehow makes it work,” said the Retailer of the Year judges, who chose owners Mike and Lee Vinson for the 2019 Gold Alabama Retailer of the Year award in the Annual Sales More Than $20 Million category.
Adams Drugs has 12 locations in the River Region, eight in Montgomery and one each in Prattville, Millbrook, Wetumpka and Pine Level. “Pharmaceuticals is a hard business,” the judges said. “For Adams Drugs to grow continuously, and have so many locations, is impressive.”
Tom and Emily Vinson founded Adams Drugs 57 years ago with one pharmacy on Adams Avenue in downtown Montgomery. The Vinson family still operates a store at that location. “My father opened his second store in 1978 behind Baptist Hospital, and we’ve grown the business since then to 12 locations,” said Mike Vinson, president of the family business.
Tom Vinson died shortly have opening the second pharmacy, leaving his wife and sons, Mike and Blake, to run the business. While Blake Vinson is now retired, Blake’s son, Bo Vinson, is a technician at the Vaughn Road store. Mike and Lee Vinson’s children, Blakey and Scott Vinson, have administrative responsibilities with the pharmacies. The Vinson family lives its company motto, “Our family serving your family since 1962.”
“My parents cultivated us and taught us how to take care of our customers,” said Mike Vinson. “Good customer service is giving the customer what they want and giving it to them when you said you were going to give it to them.”
The company president said observers sometimes suggest his stores are overstaffed, but his experience tells a different story. “It means a lot when you walk in our store, and before you even get to the counter, they’ve got your package with your prescription filled, waiting for you.”
Willie Durham, chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, which nominated the Vinsons for the award, lauded the couple for contributing to the community by delivering Meals on Wheels to area shut-ins and sponsoring more than 15 youth sports or cheerleading teams in the River Region. “They’re making a difference, as well as making a living,” Durham said.
“Mike and Lee Vinson are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, the 60,000 patients that depend on Adams Drugs for medications, their more than 180 employees and the entire River Region,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown.
Adams Drugs, an Alabama Retail Association member since 1993, was one of 14 Retailers of the Year honored at today’s Retail Day luncheon in Birmingham. The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities. This year’s winners came from a pool of more than 70 nominees.
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,200 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.