Local history will be dispensed with following an ownership change at Queenstown’s Wilkinsons Pharmacy.
Marie and Kim Wilkinson, who’ve sold to two local couples, have owned and operated their high-profile corner business for 32 years, making them arguably the resort’s longest-serving retailers.
The sale, effective next Thursday, also ends 96 years of continuous family ownership.
In 1920, Kim’s grandfather Gordon bought the former Hotop’s Dispensary, which opened in 1867, and renamed it Wilkinsons Pharmacy.
After Gordon died in 1950, Kim’s father Stan owned the business for 34 years.
He employed managers while running it from his pharmacy in Geraldine, South Canterbury, before Kim and Marie bought the business in 1984.
Kim, who’s 60 next month, says he and Marie, 58, decided last October that it was time to ease off, despite still enjoying their work.
“It’s time for us both really to take a bit of a deep breath and look at other challenges.”
He’s sad that none of their three children pursued pharmacy, “but that’s the way it is”.
The new owners are pharmacist Glenn Mitchell and his wife Tiffany - co-owners of Queenstown’s Remarkables Park pharmacy - and pharmacist Bronwen Judkins, who’s worked for Marie and Kim for 16 years, and her husband Tim.
Glenn also used to work for the Wilkinsons, and co-owned his Remarkables Park pharmacy with them till they sold out last November.
“We’re a breeding ground,” Kim quips.
For the next three months, he and Marie will help out the new owners, who are retaining the Wilkinsons Pharmacy name.
The Wilkinsons estimate they’ve employed 250 staff over the years including two mother-daughter combinations.
“We’ve had amazing staff over the years, it’s been like a family,” Marie says.
Despite selling up, they’ll continue to own the pharmacy’s original building.
These days, a lot of the shop is leased from their neighbouring property owner on Rees Street.
The Wilkinsons will also retain an interest in the new pharmacy at Queenstown’s Five Mile shopping centre.
Reflecting on 32 years trading in the CBD, Marie says: “It’s been an amazingly vibrant place to be in business.”
Kim adds: “It’s been a real pleasure and a privilege to serve the community.”