Lyon’s Drug has new owners ready for downtown pharmacy’s next chapter
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — On Thursday, Matt Johnson looked right at home behind the counter at Lyon’s Corner Drug & Soda Fountain in downtown Steamboat Springs and, in fact, it was a kind of a homecoming for the second-generation pharmacist.
“I worked here in the late 2000s for a couple years and just fell in love with it,” said Johnson, who has purchased the business from Wendy Lyon and Jennifer Campbell. “One of the big reasons why it appeals to me is my dad was an independent pharmacist, and I kind of grew up being his delivery boy and his stock boy. Eventually, I did the whole technician, intern, pharmacist, pharmacy manager thing.”
According to Johnson, Lyon’s Drug was founded in 1943, and before that, there was a pharmacy in the 840 Lincoln Ave. location under different names dating back to 1924.
“It’s humbling and it’s neat that I get to be the next steward of this line,” Johnson added.
Like his predecessors, Johnson said he was drawn to the business to help people. He also was attracted to the fact that Lyon’s is an independent pharmacy and there are only three in Northwest Colorado. The others are Bonfiglio Drug in Oak Creek and Meeker Drugs in Meeker.
“I think it is a gem of downtown,” Johnson said of Lyon’s. “I just think that Steamboat, consciously or unconsciously, holds a soft place in their heart for this building, and then, hopefully for this pharmacy, too.”
Johnson said he has just closed on the business and will be making a few updates in the months to come, but he has no plans to change the principles that have made Lyon’s one of the longest-running businesses in Steamboat. Lyon and Campbell will continue working part time, and the business will still offer greeting cards, candles, candy, lotions and other gift items.
Johnson said the soda fountain will also keep serving up a tasty lunch menu that includes renowned grilled cheese, egg salad and tuna salad sandwiches as well as ice cream, shakes, and malts.
“I think it’s just a unique combination business,” Lyon said. “I mean, there’s not that many drug stores and soda fountains that remain in the world. This one is really special.”
But what makes the business really special in the customers, according to Campbell.
“It’s the people that have supported us for decades, and new people that move here and seek out an independent pharmacy,” Campbell said. “I think those of us that work here are motivated to provide a certain level of customer service. Lyon’s will continue to offer that.”
Campbell and Lyon (no relation to the store’s namesake) purchased the business in January 2007 from Tom and Nancy Clapsaddle, who had owned the store for decades. The first pharmacy opened as Chamberlain Gray in the 1920s and adopted the Lyon family name in 1946. Now, Campbell and Lyon have passed the torch to Johnson, who wants to make sure the Lyon’s Drug legacy lives on for future generations.
“He worked here for so long, so it sort of seemed like a natural progression, and it’s been kind of a subtle change,” Lyon said. “We didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and we are trying not to make big deal out of selling it, because I think when something has been here for so long you kind of want to keep it going the way it’s always been going.”
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