Donex celebrates 50 years in business

First customer remembers store opening

Renate Cargnelutti was the first customer inside the Donex doors, then known as Spencer-Dickie Drugs, in 1967.

“I had just dropped one of my girls off at school and went in to the pharmacy and checked it out,” she says.

“It just worked out that I was the first customer.”

Cargnelutti was also on hand for the fiftieth anniversary of the store on Oct. 21, and was one of the recipients of the 50 $50 gift cards the store handed out.

“It made me feel really old,” she says with a chuckle.

Spencer-Dickie Drugs opened its doors in 1967 by Grant and Don Dickie. In 1983 the pair changed the name to Donex, a name derived from ‘Don’ and the mortar and pestle which form an ‘x’.

“It was exciting having a drug store for 100 Mile at that time,” says Cargnelutti.

Over the years, the store passed through the Dickie family for two generations, even changing locations from the Outlaw building where it opened to where it is now.

In 2013, Dave and Gordon Dickie sold the store to its current and independent owner, Colin Munro.

Reaching 50 years is no small achievement, says manager John Mix.

“It’s huge. It’s the ups and downs,” he says. “There were times where you never knew if you were going to make it or not make it.”

Mix has been with the company for the past 16 years.

“For the past 16 years you see a lot of the same customers and that’s what it’s always been like here. It’s run like a family operation,” he says.

Just in time for the fiftieth anniversary, the store has installed new automatic doors.

Mix is proud of the change and says while it should have come much sooner, he says they wanted to get it right.

He hopes the store will become more accessible as a result.

As part of the fiftieth celebrations, Donex threw a party at the store. Lucky customers could win $50 gift cards throughout the day.

During the celebrations, Cariboo Radio played music on scene from throughout the past 50 years, while the minor girls hockey team was on hand to sell hot dogs.

“For a rainy, windy, blustery day we had a good turnout. It was just thanking everybody,” says Mix.

Overall, he says Donex, which includes a pharmacy, department store and the Screamin’ Reel Fly & Tackle shop, prides itself on their customer service.

“I’m sure the whole town has good customer service, but we thrive on that. That’s what makes us: if we have to special order something for somebody or we have to keep our line-ups down or our pricing competitive, the biggest thing is our customer service,” he says.

“We have a really good staff. The staff is what makes the store; they are the backbone of any business.

“You have good staff, you have a good store,” he says.

That’s stayed consistent through the past 50 years, he says.

Cargnelutti has watched 100 Mile change through the years from a town where “you knew everybody, you could walk down the street and everybody you met you knew,” to its current incarnation.

“In that 50 years I’ve seen a lot of changes in 100 Mile as a whole but it just does bring back some memories from way back when,” she says.

“It’s nice to see the business is still there and has grown.”

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In a clipping from a newspaper in 1967, Renate Cargnelutti is congratulated on being the first customer by then-store manager Larry Stark (left) while co-owner of the company, Grant Dickie looks on at right.

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