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Serving the Howard Lake community for 30 years

August 25, 2008

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

HL Drug wishes to celebrate anniversary with music, giveaways, food, and discounts

John and Marilyn Ringold of Howard Lake Drug have been getting to know the people they serve for the last 30 years and loving every minute of it – John being the pharmacist and Marilyn the manager.

“The customers are always fun,” John said. “Each day is interesting because of the customers.”

Marilyn agreed and said, “It’s the people who make it memorable. Our customers are very loyal, and we even get to know their children.”

The Ringolds are celebrating their 30th year of ownership of the 91-year-old business. They are only the third owners in its history.

“We purchased the drug store from Bob and Ruth Rekedal who had owned the drug store for 30 years from 1948 to 1978. The owners from 1917 to 1948 were Wes Scheer and Richard Bushey,” Marilyn explained.

When the Ringolds moved from Stillwater to Howard Lake, their daughter Jennifer was 5-years-old and they were unknowingly expecting their second child Julie.

Both daughters graduated from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School. Jennifer then earned a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and Julie earned a bachelor of science degree from North Dakota State University.

“Originally, we lived on Fifth Avenue in Howard Lake, in a Victorian home built by Henry Luhman. We lived there for about seven years and were fortunate to find property on Howard Lake and built a home in 1985-86, where we reside today,” Marilyn explained.

The Ringolds have made some changes to the drug store in the last 30 years including moving the original 1947 soda fountain to a more “cozy” spot where coffee groups still gather at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. daily.

“Many interesting discussions stem from these coffee groups and much laughter abounds while the coffee is brewing,” Marilyn laughed.

The fountain still offers malted milk and shake drinks, and the “Mud Ball Sundae” featuring vanilla ice cream, peanuts, and chocolate syrup is still a favorite.

When parking was taken away from businesses along Highway 12 in Howard Lake after a MnDOT project in 2001, the Ringolds were faced with “redefining” the front door.

“We were fortunate, as there existed a very large and adequate parking lot in the rear of the store. We remodeled to create a new ‘front’ entry at the rear of the building,” Marilyn said. “Today, this entry features the 91-year-old elevator, and a beautiful mural of the fountain painted by Angela Lachermeier.”

Cedar siding and new lighting completed the new look of the new entry.

Howard Lake Drug has seven employees: Margaret A. Packard, RPh; Mary Hall; Ruth Young, CPhT; Leanne K. Rendahl, RPh; Tamara Duick; Julie Smola; and Lois Oltmann who is celebrating her 25th year of employment at the drug store. The store also has two floor moppers who are also in training to be clerks: Sarah Drusch and John Brandenburg.

“There have been many young men and women who have had the mopper’s job throughout these 30 years – many the job was their first,” Marilyn said. “John considers this job to be character building and helps in gaining work ethic.”

“There have been many good people who have worked with us over the last 30 years, and we appreciate every one of them. We like to believe that our employees are an extension of our family as we continue to provide up-to-date pharmacy services, gifts and cards, the nostalgic soda fountain, and medical consultation to our customers,” Marilyn said.

“We look forward to serving Howard Lake and surrounding communities, and enjoying that Howard Lake Drug is one of the oldest businesses in town,” she added.

The Ringolds are celebrating their 30 year ownership of the store Friday, Aug. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Music, giveaways, free food, discounts, and exchanging memories will be the order of the day,” Marilyn said.

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