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Long's Drug Store

A Place Where Everyone Felt at Home

Saying goodbye to an old friend is hard. That’s just what Knoxville recently had to do. Long’s Drug Store, the heartbeat of West Knoxville in the commercial heart of Bearden, opened its doors in 1956 and closed them for good on January 16.

With national chain pharmacies the norm, and the pandemic giving us a new norm, an independent drug store like the beloved Long’s could no longer compete. Delivering small-town goods and services was what their customers had come to count on for nearly three-quarters of a century. They were always there for their patrons: prescription delivery, a pharmacist and store owner who knew your name, friendly faces behind an old-time soda fountain with swivel stools, University of Tennessee swag, magazines, cards, books, toilet paper, dental floss, hair dye, candy, and pot scrubbers, you name it ... Long’s was unlike any other drugstore around.

The Long history of family connections dates back generations to 1952, making Long’s an impossible act to follow. Ruth Pate at that grill for 45 years. Jeanie behind the counter cranking out milkshakes, crinkle fries, the Chuckwagon, tuna salad in a tomato with melba toast, and my father’s favorite – Ruth’s egg salad sandwich with tomato and lettuce, please. Oh, and the pickles, those little bright green, flat soda fountain pickles from the past. Finishing your soda, enjoying that crunchy ice while staring up at the wall of framed photos of UT football greats. Making food memories for generations of patrons – long before becoming a foodie became a thing.

Knoxville will miss this treasured place to gather or to enjoy a conversation with the friendly stranger on a diner stool next to you. Right on the bus line, Long’s served everyone. A source of pride, a place where everyone felt at home. Those of us with sentimental hearts grieved its last day - which ironically happened during the biggest snowfall Knoxville’s had in decades. Thank you to owner Hank Peck and family for keeping Long’s going for as long as you could. May Long’s Drug Store live large in our memories.

The Long history of family connections dates back generations to 1952 -- an impossible act to follow.