Donex owners retire

Brothers Dave and Gordon Dickie leave a “reel” deal in retail

Gordon Dickie

Gordon Dickie

Longtime owners of Donex Pharmacy & Department Store in 100 Mile House, Dave and Gordon Dickie, have sold the family business.

Dave says he and his wife, MJ, will stay in the community, while his brother, Gordon, is moving to White Rock for a while.

The roots of the family business go back to Spencer-Dickie Drugs in Quesnel, founded in 1955 by their father, Don Dickie, and his business partner, Alf Spencer.

By 1961, they had opened a store in Williams Lake, which Alf ran until the mid-’60s when he left the partnership and Don’s brother, Grant Dickie, joined the business.

In 1967, his dad and his uncle opened Spencer-Dickie Drugs in 100 Mile House, Dave explains, and then changed the name to Donex Pharmacy, in 1983.

“Not many people know that ‘Donex’ is derived from my dad’s name ‘Don’ and the logo is ‘Don’ with a mortar and pestle [forming an ‘X’].”

After the partnership ended, Don took sole ownership of Donex Pharmacy, and then Gordon moved to 100 Mile House in 1987 and managed the store for two years.

In 1989, Gordon purchased the store from his father, and Don retired.

Dave explains he moved to the 100 Mile House in 1992, and after working for Gordon for a couple of years, bought 50 per cent of the business.

“Our whole mission here has been to provide a wide selection of merchandise at a fair price, while maintaining excellent customer service.”

The brothers operated the store as equal partners for the next two decades until they sold the store in February 2013, but they are staying on briefly in an advisory role to ensure there is a smooth transition.

The store had several chains considering its purchase, including Shoppers Drug Mart, but the Dickie brothers sold to an independent merchant, Colin Munro, who owns several other stores in the province.

“We’ve known Colin for several years, as we belong to the same buying group.”

Dave says customers can expect to see similar products and the service they have received during the past 46 years.

“Colin said he’s going to run the store the same as we run it, and he’s kept all the staff – it’s business as usual.”

Dave says “everybody” has been asking him what he will do now.

“I don’t really know. My wife and I have a few health issues we have to look after in the short term, and then we’ll just see what the future holds.”

Dave adds he might work part time, but he will at least partially, if not fully, retire.

“I haven’t quite figured all that out; it has been quite a lot of work the past few months.”

Gordon says he will take a break in White Rock and finally have time to pursue some leisure activities.

“I’m taking it easy for a while and then we’ll see – when the dust settles.”

Both brothers say they will do a lot more fishing.

“We’ve been selling fishing tackle in the store since 1991. In 2002, we developed the Screaming Reel Fly & Tackle to put a name on the fishing department.”

Dave notes that was the right thing to do, as it attracted tourists, visitors and sportsmen to the store who may not otherwise have ventured into a pharmacy for fishing tackle.

“It has definitely been successful, but it has also added to the product mix to give us more of a department store feel.”

Gord says the sporting goods business segment has grown every year and brought in new and more customers, which shows there are still opportunities in retail with rewarding returns and experiences.

Dave explains he and Gord always strove to offer the right product at the right time at the right price – all with good customer service.

“I think we did a good job. It has been a lot of work – an awful lot of work – but it has been rewarding as well.”

This was done in the “daily grind” and with pressure on profit margins coming from stiff competition in the big-box stores and online shopping, which he notes really hit the smaller retailer’s bottom line.

It’s “a big deal” in retail when you are satisfying your customers’ needs, Dave explains, especially for Gord, who was the store’s head pharmacist and helped countless people with their individual health issues.

Says Gord: “We will miss the customers, and miss the customer contact.”

Dave notes the store has maintained its responsibility and goal to support community events and charities.

The Dickie family is very appreciative of all the community support it has received over the decades, he adds.

“We’d like to thank all our customers for their patronage over the years.”