Pharmacist Charis Dunlap is the new owner of AR-EX

Pharmacist Charis Dunlap is realizing her goal of owning a community business where she gets to know the patients she serves.

On Nov. 1, Dunlap became the new owner of AR-EX drug store in downtown Marysville.

While in college, Dunlap said, she worked rotations in large chain pharmacies. The experience reinforced her belief in independent drug stores.

“Small towns are about serving your community; you have to be an independent pharmacy to really do that,” she said. “Customers should be able to walk in or pick up the phone and talk to the pharmacist.”

Dunlap has worked at the store since 2011 with John and Glenda Lowdermilk, who have co-owned the business since 1977.

The Lowdermilks, now retiring, say they’ll miss the community that came through their doors.

“We really appreciate the support and loyalty of friends and customers over the years,” Glenda said. “Marysville has been a wonderful place for us both professionally and personally.”

John said it’s been bittersweet to leave the job, but he will fill in occasionally when Charis needs backup.

John said he will miss the interaction with customers and staff.

“They were friends; they became part of our extended family,” John said.

He also enjoyed working with the community’s health-care providers.

“We’re lucky to have those good people.”

AR-EX was originally opened by Bill Simpson in 1953 and later was purchased by partners Ron Marples and Jack Bicknell.

John Lowdermilk, a 1971 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, moved here in 1976 and bought part of AR-EX from retiring pharmacist Marples.

The Lowdermilks were co-owners of the drug store, then located at 715 Broadway, until buying Bicknell out in 1985.

In 1988, they purchased the former Triangle Drug Store building at Ninth and Broadway and remodeled and moved the business there.

The store provides not only pharmacy goods but also a wide range of gift items and housewares.

Glenda said it’s been a good community for the couple to raise their two children, Justin, who now lives in San Francisco, and Megan Wall, who lives in St. Louis. The Lowdermilks have one grandson, Henry.

Through the years at AR-EX, Glenda said, they’ve sought to offer personalized service.

“It’s important to have an independent pharmacy that puts customer care above everything else.”

Dunlap now will carry on with that legacy.

“I have big shoes to fill,” she said.

She’s grateful for the knowledge that John shared as a mentor.

“He’s very smart in business as well as a good pharmacist,” Dunlap said. “I appreciate that he trusted me to run his business when he was gone.”

“We can’t replace him,” she added. “He’ll be missed.”

Dunlap was raised in the Liberty, Neb., community and graduated from Southern High School in Wymore, Neb. She received a pharmacy degree in 2011 from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

She then joined the Lowdermilks’ business in Marysville, which is near her extended family. Her husband Sam Dunlap’s hometown is Beattie. He is a lineman for Westar Energy. The couple’s daughter, Haley, is 2.

Dunlap understands that owning a small pharmacy means going the extra mile at times, which is fine with her. The business also delivers prescriptions in Marysville and Frankfort.

AR-EX, which is an independently owned franchise of Health Mart, has eight employees. Dunlap eventually plans to hire a second pharmacist to fill her former position.

The fact that Marysville’s downtown pharmacy will continue into the next generation is welcome news here.

“It’s so important to have a pharmacy downtown because it’s convenient for all ages,” said Brenda Staggenborg, executive secretary of Marysville Chamber of Commerce. “And it’s so good to see the younger generation becoming a part of the community.”

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Pharmacist Charis Dunlap is the new owner of AR-EX
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