On November 29, 1975, Robert “Bob” Bowman locked the doors on Bowman’s Drug Store for the last time. He sold the business that had been in the family since June 12, 1883 to James Henderson.
The Firm originated on June 12, 1883, when Henry Dexter Bowman and his brother-in-law, Charles R. Ferguson, purchased the business of A. E. Fatin and Son, dealers in drugs, medicines, books, and stationary.
In May 1888, liquor bonds were issued at $3,000 each to W. H. Whitehead, James Mills, George Braidwood, and H. D. Bowman. The Drug Store had three barrels of liquor in the basement: scotch, whiskey, rum. Customers could bring their own bottles in to be filled, or they could purchase a bottle and have it filled. No bottled liquor was available then.
Henry’s son, Harry, graduated from college in 1999 and bought out the interest of Mr. Ferguson. Then the business assumed the name of H. D. Bowman and Son. The firm sold drugs, wallpaper, books, jewelry and crockery. Whiskey and scotch were dispensed from barrels and used for medicinal purposes before prohibition. Wallpaper was a big business, and the Drug Store ordered it direct from the mills. In 1909, a shipment of 196 bundles containing 9,064 rolls of wallpaper was delivered and stacked in front of the store to be carried to the second floor, where it was stored in bins. The wallpaper sample book was on a tripod in the center aisle on the first floor. A chair was always nearby for the customer to use, while Mr. Bowman turned to the different patterns.
Following the death of the founder, H. D. Bowman, on January 4, 1926, the firm became Bowman Drug Store, and Harry was the sole owner. One big change that Harry made was installing a soda fountain on the north side of the store. A few round soda tables and curved back, metal chairs were put in. Later these were replaced by booths. Harry, being interested in our town, was nicknamed “Mr. Almont” by his friends. He knew almost everything that went on in Almont, and if anyone wanted to know who lived where or any Almont History, they always came to talk to Harry.
The third generation of the Bowman family, Robert, graduated from college on July 1, 1949. Harry and Robert operated the business jointly until the death of the former on November 6, 1952, and Robert became the sole owner.
During the next 23 years, Bob made many changes as the business grew and more stock was needed to keep up with the times. On Palm Sunday 1963, he carpeted the store, and Bob boasted that his was the only carpeted Drug Store in Michigan..The back room was made larger to display gifts and art supplies. Cards, a big seller, were displayed in racks on the south wall. Stacks holding merchandise were arranges down the center of the store, and a new office and prescription room combined was built on the north side.
Bob, known to friends by various nicknames as, “Pudgy Pillroller” and “Curly”’ said that he had worked in the Drug Store ever since he was 12 years old and had to stand on a wooden pop case in order to reach the cash register at first.
On November 29, 1975, Robert K. locked the Drug Store for the last time, for the business had been sold to James Henderson of Henderson Pharmacy at the Lane-Swayze Clinic at 209 S. main Street. The store continued the Bowman name but will be operated as a discount store, and the drugs will be dispensed from Henderson Pharmacy.