Big State Drug closes doors for good

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Main Street Irving may undergo some  changes as Big State Drug closes its doors  for good. / Photo by Genesis Bishop

Main Street Irving may undergo some
changes as Big State Drug closes its doors
for good. / Photo by Genesis Bishop

A staple business of Irving since 1948, Big State Drug, says farewell to the community it has served for nearly 70 years.

Rumors of troubles at Big State Drug, began in late April, when many residents heard whispers that current owners, Brian and Stacy Smith, hadn’t resigned the lease on the building.

At that time, Brian Smith, confirmed that he had opted not to resign the lease, but declined any further comment on the subject with the explanation that he wanted to have more answers about the future of the store before saying more.

Those answers came this last Tuesday. Smith said that Big State Drug would close its doors forever Thursday, May 22 at 7 p.m. The tightening of Medicare and Medicaid payouts on prescriptions has cut deep into the stores primary profits and made it unfeasible to move forward with the business for Smith.

“We sold the files and inventory to the CVS down the street,” Smith said. “I’m going down there – following the records to make sure everything gets handled appropriately for the people who have been here a long time.”

Located in downtown Irving, in the heart of the Historic District, Big State Drug was established when the B&H Dry Goods Store was sold to Clay and Jean Burney.

Downtown Irving, especially establishments off Main Street were very popular during that time period. Big State Drug boasted a soda fountain, jukebox, banana splits, sundaes and air conditioning – a luxury at the time – and was a popular hangout for high school students.

In 1992, Brian and Stacy Smith took over the operation, keeping the drug store and soda fountain atmosphere that made the establishment such a popular attraction mid-century.

“The fountain is staying. The signs are staying,” Smith said.

Although there isn’t a tenant lined up for the building yet, Smith said he believes the landlord is seeking someone who will maintain the historical aspects of the building.

“I think [the landlord] is trying to find somebody that’ll come in here and keep the fountain going, but there won’t be a drugstore.”

As for the signage, there may be potential changes in the future, according to Smith.

“[The signs] will have to be changed, because they can’t say drugs, prescriptions, RX – any of that stuff – since there will no longer be a pharmacy here.

Big State celebrated its 50th anniversary with a street celebration, including a nine-piece Dixieland Band, in the summer of 1998. Until Thursday, when they closed their doors for the last time, Big State Drug was widely respected as one of only two, fully operational, soda fountains in Dallas County.

Historically, Big State Drugs is located on what was originally developed by Charles Stovall for his Banner Mercantile store, a large frame building at the time. Circa 1914 C.T. Lucas, a former employee, turned renter, turned owner, moved the frame store located at the corner of First and Main. He built the permanent brick building in its place where Big State currently resides. Mr. Lucas also used the vacant land just south of the building as a poultry farm. He owned and operated the Banner Merchantile until the early 1930’s.

For Smith, the process of letting go has been difficult.

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for the last little bit – until everything got settled and I’ve gone through all the emotions I guess,” he said.

Smith said he’s come to terms with the whole ordeal, though, and finds solace in knowing that the community supported him throughout the years and that all of his employees, except two, have jobs and are accounted for.

“It’s been a good 22 years. We’ve enjoyed it. We appreciate everybody’s support. I’ll still be around,” Smith said. “I’ll still be around.”