Fairhope Pharmacy noted for 113 years in business

FAIRHOPE / BIRMINGHAM – “You go to the corner where Fairhope Pharmacy is and you take a left, or a right, or go straight.” That’s how people give directions in downtown Fairhope, said Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce President Casey Williams.

Dr. Clarence Mershon, left, Fairhope Pharmacy’s first owner on the porch of the store as it appeared sometime between 1912 and 1915.

Throughout its 113-year history, the landmark business has been a pharmacy. Since 1916, it has been at the corner of Fairhope Avenue and Section Street. The Alabama Retail Association today honored Fairhope Pharmacy as an Alabama Centennial Retailer. The business received a bronze plaque to place outside its store and a certificate suitable for display inside. Williams nominated the pharmacy for the award.

The current owners, the Barnhill family, have owned the store since 1959.

Pharmacist Ben Barnhill, who passed away this year at the age of 87, began working there in 1957, and bought the store two years later.

In the early years, Fairhope Pharmacy only filled prescriptions. There were doctors’ offices upstairs. Later, sundries and a soda fountain were added. Now, it is a pharmacy and a gift shop.

LouAnne Harrell and Betty Barnhill

“When I was little, (the store sold) wheelchairs, potty chairs, crutches and drugs,” said LouAnne Barnhill Harrell, the daughter of Ben and Betty Barnhill. “In the ’80s, mother and I started the gift shop and started going to market. Over a period of years, it has just evolved into what it is now.”

Fairhope Pharmacy currently offers delivery five days a week and makes refills through its website and app.

In 1995, Betty Barnhill also founded Christmas ‘Round the Corner, a year-round Christmas shop in an adjoining historical building.

Ben Barnhill, 1930 – 2017

Williams said Ben Barnhill’s “care for the community and care for each individual person” is what made the Fairhope Pharmacy what it is today. “He was a man that gave much to our community,” she said.

Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “For a business to survive the dramatic changes of the past century is a remarkable achievement. It is fitting to celebrate the enduring first-century contributions Fairhope Pharmacy has made to Fairhope and the surrounding communities.”

Video interview with Betty Barnhill,
LouAnne Barnhill Harrell and Casey Williams

Previously honored Centennial Retailers


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.

LouAnne Barnhill Harrell, Fairhope Pharmacy | 251.751.2342
Nancy Dennis, Alabama Retail Association| 334.551.0643

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