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Howard Lake Drug store celebrates big milestones

January 14, 2007

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

The year 2008 ushers in some big milestones for Howard Lake Drug including the 91st anniversary of the drug store, the 30th anniversary of John and Marilyn Ringold’s ownership of the store, and John’s 65th birthday.

Yes, John is turning 65 years old this Friday, and Marilyn is calling it “his 30th anniversary of his 35th birthday.” This article was written without John’s knowledge and is part of his birthday surprise from his wife of 41 years.

“John has always been and continues to be a pillar in the community in keeping people well,” Marilyn said. “He’s ‘Mr. Steady-at-the-wheel’ in the pharmacy.”

“He really cares about everybody on an equal basis, which is an admirable quality – he’s fair,” Marilyn said of her pharmacist husband.

The Ringolds purchased the drug store from Bob and Ruth Rekedal in 1978.

“We surprised the owner because he was not ready to retire – he was only 62. We made him an offer he couldn’t refuse,” Marilyn laughed.

Marilyn explained that at that time, John was working for someone else in Stillwater.

“He was looking to own his own business, especially since he was passionate about being a sole proprietor – be his own boss,” Marilyn said.

“His business criteria was that it had to be within a 50-mile radius from the Twin Cities, it had to be a good place to raise children, and the town would have to offer services like a clinic, church, grocery, bank, hardware, et cetera; and that led us to Howard Lake,” Marilyn said.

“He’s been an entrepreneur all of his life. His nickname in high school was ‘the banker’ because he had a paper route and he knew how to manage money,” Marilyn explained.

When the Ringolds first started their pharmaceutical business in Howard Lake, the pharmacy would dispense about 50 prescriptions on a good day. Today, the pharmacy handles around 200 prescriptions on a busy day.

But even with the increased business and the changing times, the pharmacy has preserved its nostalgic feel and still has “the flavor” of an old-time pharmacy, as John would say.

The original sign that hung outside the pharmacy is hanging inside, well preserved, along with a large and diverse assortment of pharmaceutical antiques, many of which are original to the store.

Anyone who knows anything about the Howard Lake Drug store also knows about its original 1948 soda fountain that is still used today to dispense mudballs, shakes, malts, and ice cream cones.

Located above the store are apartments, which the Ringolds own and manage.

“John does wear a lot of hats. He’s a pharmacist, a dad, a husband, a landlord, an amateur plumber, an electrician, mopper, malt maker, ice cream cone provider, and more,” Marilyn laughed.

“He enjoys the lake and old cars. He’s currently restoring an old wooden boat,” Marilyn said.

In honor of John’s birthday, the Ringolds welcome you to stop by the drug store Friday, Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for cake and coffee.