New owners continue McCoy's Pharmacy legacy

Rising from the ashes

Standing inside the new McCoy’s Pharmacy on Main St., you’ll see pharmacist and owner, Michael Hankins, filling prescriptions, Kayla Abrams serving customers at the drive-through window, and Stephanie Boyd ringing up clients at the front counter. It’s another day at McCoy’s Pharmacy, its friendly staff helping people get their medications, consulting with customers, and buttoning up the final touches needed at their new location. 

The journey to return the McCoy’s Pharmacy name to Main St. in Cottage Grove was a dream for David Debysingh. After years of working as a pharmacist and consultant for other local businesses, he decided he would take a chance at bringing back what the city had lost so many years ago.

On December 27, 1989, at its original location next to The Bookmine, the first iteration of McCoy’s Pharmacy suffered an unforgettable tragedy. All told, the pharmacy, a print shop, a bakery, a barber shop, and the life of Catherine Filmer - who lived in an apartment above the pharmacy - were lost in a fire that tore through Cottage Grove at midnight.

Paul Gordon McCoy established McCoy’s Pharmacy in Cottage Grove in 1959. He was well known in the community as a member of the United Methodist Church and Chamber of Commerce, a charter member of the Rotary Club, and even a barbershop singer with the Cascade Chorus. His vision was to provide a substantial and friendly pharmacy in Cottage Grove following the “Golden Rule,” which is to treat others as you would like to be treated.

David Debysingh has a similar philosophical motto: “We’ll find a Way.” His genuine need to serve his community compliments Paul McCoy’s original mission statement. Debysingh worked at McCoy’s before moving on to consult at PeaceHealth in Cottage Grove. Later, he began working at the Safeway pharmacy, which is where he met his future business partner, Mike Hankins. There, the two built a reputation with their customers, showing their dedication to providing the best in quality and customer service. 

Debysingh imagined the possibility of owning his own pharmacy one day, and when the time came to leave Safeway, he called Hankins with an idea: “One day, if you’re up for it, I think we should open our own pharmacy,” he said. In an interview with the Sentinel, Debysingh remembered when that idea finally turned into something more. “It took a little persuasion,” he said, “but Hankins eventually gave it a chance with me.”

Once the two former co-workers had their interests aligned, they acquired the McCoy’s brand and started working toward opening the business together. “It was a natural fit,” said Debysingh. By March 2019, he and Hankins opened McCoy’s Pharmacy where there had once been a Figaro’s Pizza on OR-99. It was a dream come true for more than just the owners.

“The public demanded that we come back when Mike and I left Safeway,” remembered Debysingh, “and when we did, Mike McCoy (Paul McCoy’s son) stopped by and said, ‘This is fantastic, I’m so glad to see my dad’s name continue.’”

Looking back, the legacy that Paul McCoy left behind in the community is undeniable, and like him, jumping at the chance to serve the public was a goal for Hankins and Debysingh. “We couldn’t do this anywhere else,” said Debysingh. “Keeping our prices affordable and stocking quality products without a high mark-up is one way to bring in and keep customers.”

In addition to the prescriptions, vitamins, and health care products that McCoy’s Pharmacy currently carries, plans are in the works to introduce retail items for patrons to enjoy as well, the store’s owners announced. The goal, they shared, is to offer the kind of variety items that shoppers cannot find elsewhere in Cottage Grove. “We don’t want to take away from other businesses;” said Debysingh, “we simply want to carry quality items that other places don’t carry.”

Crossing the lobby at the pharmacy’s new location, patrons will find organic snacks and food items as well as charming and decorative items for their homes, including handcrafted goods from local artisans.

Looking forward, McCoy’s Pharmacy staff noted that customers can continue to count on the pharmacy’s drive-through medication services. In addition to this, the business is reportedly getting more efficient with a will-call system and light-up bags that help cut down on customer wait times.

With automation and affordable prices on their side, Debysingh and Hankins shared that they are looking forward to growing into their new space. They feel like they have a strong team, the two indicated. As it would happen, when the local Bi-Mart pharmacy closed in 2021, McCoy’s decided to hire on all the displaced employees. 

The built-in ethic that has persevered with the McCoy’s Pharmacy name since its inception is one that strives to help and serve its customers. It is a quality that endures under the company’s new ownership and at the store’s new location at 1645 E Main St., in Cottage Grove.

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