‘Friendliest bunch of people in town’

Thrifty White Pharmacy in Madison offers wide range of hometown services


A customer is greeted with a smile while picking up a prescription at Thrifty White Pharmacy, located on Sixth Avenue in Madison. A pharmacy has been at the location since 1896. Photo by Scott Thoma


“The friendliest bunch of people in town,” said one customer exiting the store. “I always get the feeling that they enjoy seeing customers come in. You don’t get that feeling with a lot of places.”

Thrifty White Pharmacy is housed on Sixth Avenue in a brick building that was constructed in 1896. The original building was called Central Drug and has always been a drugstore, but the name has changed several times over the course of 120 years.

Thrifty White has been the proprietor since July 2004 and expanded over the years. It’s now housed in what was once four separate buildings.

“I really like that you can get your prescriptions while also going gift shopping at the same time,” said another customer before taking in the scent of several candles. “I love the way they organize the rooms and have one whole room for just Christmas decorations and gifts.”

Twelve employees make up the work force of Thrifty White Pharmacy, an employee-owned company that has been serving rural, Midwest communities for over 120 years. Thrifty White Pharmacy is comprised of two major companies – White Drug Enterprises, which was founded in 1884, and Thrifty Drug, which was founded in 1957.


Pharmacy manager Kristi Wanner (left) and store manager, Shannon Fernholz (right). Photo by Scott Thoma


Shannon Fernholz is the Madison-based store manager, and Kristi Wanner, a registered pharmacist, is the pharmacy manager. There has even been a pair of third-generation employees at the store, each including a mother-daughter-granddaughter.

“It’s a nice place to work,” said Diane Wildung, whose mother and daughter also have worked at the location. “We have customers come here from all over and appreciate our store. We take pride in being a clean store that’s not cluttered.”


Store clerk Diane Wildung finishes decorating a tree in the holiday gift room. Photo by Scott Thoma


The outside of Thrifty White has the appearance of a small-town drug store, reflecting Madison’s modest population of 1,551. But once inside, the store seems to transform into a much larger retail outlet.

“We have a wide selection of items in the store,” said Fernholz, who has been the manager for seven years. “Besides the pharmaceuticals, we sell baby items, cards, purses, jewelry, home décor, candles, gift items and a lot more.”

The store also offers year-round fee gift wrapping, and can also be used for brides-to-be as a bridal registry free of charge.

There is also a photo kiosk in the center of the store in which patrons can print pictures or holiday cards.

“If they have trouble printing or don’t understand something with the kiosk, we’re happy to help them in any way we can,” said Wildung.


Store clerk Paige Mortenson is a third-generation employee at the store. Photo by Scott Thoma


“We’re the only place in town that has a photo kiosk, so we have a lot of people using it,” remarked Fernholz. “And we’re the only place customers can drop off UPS packages. We try to offer a wide range of friendly hometown services.”

The holiday room is neatly decorated with illuminations casting a glow over the vast number of gifts available. The store offers holiday sales throughout the month of December.

On the pharmaceutical end of the store, Wanner and her techs provide customers with numerous services, all intended to make their trip to the store as simple and pleasurable as they can.

“We have free blood pressure checks for anyone that wants one,” said Wanner, who has been with Thrifty for 11 years. “We also offer a variety of immunizations, such as flu shots and mist, Zostavax (shingles) shots, two types of shots for pneumonia (Prevnar-13 and Pneumovax-23), and tetanus.”

Thrifty White is also accredited for dispensing specialty medications. If you have a chronic or difficult health condition such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, HIV, Crohn’s disease, plaque psoriasis, Hepatitis C, or others, you may need specialty medications. Specialty medications typically require special handling, administration, or monitoring. Thrifty White Drug of Madison is readily available to help navigate through this complex process and assist you with expert advice, friendly care, and disease state management.


Wildung assists a customer in the holiday gift room. Photo by Scott Thoma


One of the unique pharmaceutical items offered by Thrifty White stores is a “timer cap” in which a type of stopwatch on the cap of a prescription bottle reminds patients when they last took a pill and when it’s time for the next one. “As soon as you open the cap, the timer resets,” Wanner explained. “That way, if you’re not sure if you took your pills that day, you can just look at the timer to see when the cap was last opened. Customers really like this option.”

Another option offered by Thrifty White is “Med Sync” for customers that have more than one prescription. Instead of having to run down to the store several times a week to pick up their prescriptions, the staff can synchronize them to be ready at the same time.

We also have a free service called Ready Refill in which your prescriptions are ready and waiting for you before you come into the store, so there is no need to call in your refills. This way there is no wait time when you get to the pharmacy.

And customers also don’t have to wait long to know how important they are to the Thrifty White Pharmacy staff.

“I don’t know what we would do without this place in our town,” said a gentleman, who told about the help he received when asking what type of a wrap he should use on his bad ankle. “Every time I come in here, they go above and beyond to help (the customers).”

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