Brooklyn Pharmacy's Mike Dardis sells store, will retire
After serving Inner Southeast's pharmaceutical needs for 53 years, Mike Dardis has finally decided to retire. His "Brooklyn Pharmacy" is one of very few privately-owned drugstores in Portland.
"Most others have been purchased by commercial drug companies, but it was very important to me that the Brooklyn Pharmacy retain its name and historical community traditions," he says.
Pat Hubbell, a pharmacist originally from Kansas, has bought the business, and will continue to run it as The Brooklyn Pharmacy. "It was vital to me to have a neighborhood-centered pharmacy," says Dardis. "That was a big selling point. In 2000 we received a coveted 'Bowl of Hygei' award for community public service. Only one is given in each state per year. That award will stay with the business when Hubbell takes over."Dardis tells THE BEE he is already semi-retired, stopping in only occasionally at his business; new owner Hubbell is expected to be taking over sometime in December.
Mike Dardis graduated with a B.S. Degree from Oregon State University in 1963, then spent a year as an intern at the original Brooklyn Pharmacy before receiving his license. The pharmacy was then located where the AM-PM Arco gas station now stands, on the southeast corner of Powell Boulevard and S.E. Milwaukie.
"After my first three years, the property owner decided to demolish the whole corner of the lot, and sell it to Atlantic Richfield," recalls Dardis. "My partner Russ Miller and I wanted to stay in the neighborhood, and we eventually moved to 3370 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, where we worked for 25 years. When the lease came due, the landlord wanted to double our rent, and we couldn't afford that.
"I talked to Paul Schuback, owner of the Violin Shop (now Classic Pianos), and a friend of his designed this space at 3131 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue just for us. My daughter Kelly, now a licensed pharmacist herself, interned here, and has been with us ever since. But after my 25 years in this location, it's time for me to retire."
Dardis' community spirit is strong. He regularly contributes to neighborhood causes, and recently received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association for again donating funds to this year's Brooklyn Ice Cream Social. He also supported the former Brooklyn Business Association, as well as the former Brooklyn Elementary School PTA – once donating toothbrushes and toothpaste for every child there, during Health and Fitness Week.
Through the years, Mike has freely told amusing stories and given advice and historical perspectives about the pharmacy business. In the early days, druggists had to mix and roll their own tablets. Around WWII, commercially-made pills became available. Another big change was when plastic bottles replaced glass containers.
A decade ago, Dardis established a permanent display of historic pharmaceutical memorabilia from the Oregon State Pharmacy Association in Wilsonville. Along with his own historic items, many of them received from Brooklyn neighbors, the display was curated by retired pharmacist John Kaegl and his daughter Susan. The collection displays such old medical nostrums as cactus juice, goose grease, swamp root, syrup of figs, and strychnine sulphate – many of them still in old glass bottles, with corks and bubble imperfections.
A robbery years ago led Dardis to install steel safety gates; and in 2013 – as reported on the front page of THE BEE at the time – a speeding pickup truck smashed through the front of the store in the early morning darkness, damaging the historic display. The little in-store museum was repaired and restored, and will remain in the Brooklyn Pharmacy under its new owner.