Mike’s Pharmacy has been Carson City’s gold standard

Mike’s Pharmacy is going the way of the Penguin. That’s the Penguin Drive-in. Extinct.

Today Carson City’s only locally owned pharmacy shuts its doors forever. It’s another blow to downtown, and a challenge to sustaining Carson’s small town atmosphere.

Mike Hautekeet, the larger-than-life pharmacist and owner, has been helping people at the corner of North Curry and West William streets for nearly 20 years. In my experience, Mike and his staff have been kind, compassionate and helpful in both daily and dire circumstances. Like Cheers, Boston’s iconic neighborhood pub, Mike’s is a place where everyone knows your name. It’s a drug store that dispenses caring, personalized service, especially to the elderly.

In addition to filling standard prescriptions under a myriad of insurance plans and rules, Mike’s Pharmacy also produces compounds. Compounds are prescription-based medications tailored to the needs of an individual patient. Compounds are especially important for patients with allergies to standard medications, for children and the elderly who can’t swallow pills, and for patients in need of specialized medicine formulas. To my knowledge, Mike’s has been the only compounding pharmacy in Carson City.

Mike attributes the business closure to the “nickel and diming” of the Affordable Care Act, which is especially challenging for independent drug stores. It’s the final chapter of a tough business year. A flood caused by a leaking water heater over Independence Day weekend disrupted operations and made working conditions difficult for months.

National chains also serve Carson residents well, and independent drug store MedCare continues to operate along with pharmacies in grocery stores such as Raley’s. But for a town known for its friendly feel, there must be room and incentives for small businesses of all kinds.

As city planners and leaders reshape our city to succeed into the 21st century, sustaining Carson’s small town atmosphere in the face of increasing chain store standardization is tricky but essential. According to Liveability.com, Carson is in the top 5 retirement spots in the United States. Carson’s unique qualities including geographic setting and small town atmosphere are likely contributors to that designation.

Closure of small, customer service oriented businesses like Mike’s Pharmacy and the True Value Hardware (formerly Coast to Coast) are more than signs of the times. They should also be alarm bells to the leaders of Carson City. Yes, our capital city’s health depends on attracting new businesses to diversify and build our economy. But small, community-oriented businesses need nurturing as well. The Girl Scout adage, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold,” applies.

Mike’s Pharmacy has been the gold standard for taking care of people for 20 years, one person at a time. It’s what has helped make Carson City a special place to live. The challenge is to sustain Carson’s personal small town qualities as our city transforms. The friendly customer service and community spirit of Mike’s Pharmacy has been a role model that we should emulate. The small town atmosphere of Carson City should never become extinct.

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.


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