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Saturday, April 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Then and Now

Hart and Dilatush pharmacy

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Pharmacists Joseph Hart and Owen Dilatush were confident they could build Spokane’s next great drug store. Hart had managed a large store in Seattle and worked in William Murgittroyd’s Prescription Annex in the Old National Bank building before the two opened Hart & Dilatush Pharmacy at 9 N. Stevens St. in 1918, near the popular doctors and dentists downtown. When Murgittroyd sold out in 1925, the young newcomers took over the clients of the Prescription Annex. They used direct mail to doctors and dentists to solicit new patients, and pledged to always be cheerful and call customers by name. Their store didn’t carry dangerous medicines or health fads. They promised to label each medication with the patient’s name and address, not a standard practice at the time. In their first year, they dispensed 60,000 prescriptions. The pharmacy was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A police scanner in the back room allowed officers to hang out there when things were slow. It wasn’t until 1969 – after 51 years of continuous operation – that Hart & Dilatush locked its doors, because Virgil Elliott, the pharmacist who staffed the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift, had died. Those eight-hour closings lasted only three days, however, until they hired a new pharmacist. “From the earliest days, lifesaving deliveries have been a service of this firm,” said a newspaper story marking Hart & Dilatush’s 50th anniversary. “To a child in Ritzville, a new rattlesnake serum was rushed at 1920s top auto speed. Engaging the services of a goggled and helmeted airplane pilot, Owen Dilatush personally delivered the medication to stem a severe botulism outbreak in Canada.” Dilatush died of a sudden heart attack behind the counter of the store in 1929, and Hart sold out to a trust held by Old National Bank. The Spokane pharmacy stuck to the original business plan until it was sold in 1968. In 1974, Hart & Dilatush Pharmacy moved into a remodeled Halliday Building, which was part of the Ridpath Hotel complex. After more than 30 years there, pharmacist Dan Reidt, only the fourth owner, moved to the Bank of America Financial Center in 2008. - Margaret Cowles and Jesse Tinsley

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