The History of Vashon Pharmacy
Medication has been available on Vashon Island well before recorded history as the native American tribes shared and bartered for natural remedies in early days. Traditional medicines, collectively known as Patent medicine around the early 1900’s were sold in downtown Vashon by ancestors of the Garvin family among others. The first registered “druggist” moved to the Island and set up shop in 1933 a few doors north from the current Vashon Pharmacy.
The Vashon Drug Store remained in this location until around 1950 when Bill Willingham took over, renamed it Vashon Pharmacy, and eventually moved his enterprise to the current location. This larger space allowed Bill to expand his gift lines and increase sales, and he eventually purchased the holdings of Burton Pharmacy, and hired it’s owner Cecil Perkins.
These two beloved citizens provided prescription service together to Islanders until the early 1970’s. At that time, Cecil contracted a terminal illness and eventually passed away.
In 1976, Tom Langland a life-long Islander who worked all of his high school years with Mr. Willingham, came on board as a full time pharmacist. Things got challenging in 1977 when the Pharmacy and two other adjoining businesses burned to the ground in the middle of the night. The fire department responded quickly, but was unable to douse the fires due to inadequate water flow from ancient 4 inch water mains.
King County would not allow re-building these businesses until larger water mains were installed, so the Pharmacy set up a temporary store in the space that now houses Isala Restaurant (formerly Express Cuisine).
The Pharmacy offered a handful of gifts and a full Prescription department while the new store was being re-built next door. The new building, a third larger than the old space, opened about a year later. Over the ensuing years, Bill was able to relax a bit more, travel some, and take some “golf days”.
In 1992, Bill sold Vashon Pharmacy to his son David Willingham, also a pharmacist, and Tom as equal partners. This partnership is solid after 25 years and the store has been run pretty much in the same family-owned model since 1950.
We have added 3 doctorate level pharmacists in recent years so that we can improve our pharmaceutical care and enter disease state management, immunizations, medication compliance enhancement, and a host of other services while maintaining the opportunity for patients to speak directly and at length with a pharmacist any time they choose.
Along with OTC drugs and advice, Home health care items, fantastic toys and a variety of gifts, Vashon Pharmacy continues to strive to be a place that Vashon Islanders trust, gather, and always know that they are welcomed and valued.