Paired with milkshakes and penny candy, the medicine does go down a little sweeter.

For the first time since the 1970s, American Falls’ Rockland Pharmacy has a new owner, and one who is adamant about maintaining the business’s warm community atmosphere and good service.

In April 2019, 28-year-old Scott Anderson stepped up to fill the lab coats of previous owners Rod and Jayme Tucker and took over the pharmacy and boutique on 524 Tyhee Ave.

“I’m sure there were plenty of people who had approached them,” Anderson said. “But I threw my hat in the ring and it came together at the end.”

Anderson, who graduated from Idaho State University in 2016 with a doctorate in pharmacy, has been with the business since 2011. What initially started out as a part-time job evolved into a passion for both the medical field and the pharmacy, and over the years Anderson put in hundreds of hours at the business.

“A lot of it started here,” he said. “I think about the memories I had when I was young and coming into the pharmacy for all sorts of things like the penny candy and the fountain and everything else. It’s more than just the pharmacy. I just like the environment, and it fit my personality in a way. It’s worked out great.”

Yet the pharmacy building, which sits snug in the middle of the town, provides more than just medicine to its patients. It houses a milkshake and coffee bar reminiscent of old-style drugstores of the 1950s. They also run a small Radio Shack from inside the pharmacy, selling electronics from an area of the store.

The store also sells day-to-day items such as hair grooming supplies, gift wrapping, toys, and school supplies, among other things.

“People love to come in and look at all the unique gifts we have,” said Jo, an employee of the pharmacy, who described the business as the central hub of the town. “Penny candy is also popular. It’s a dying thing, and we are trying to keep it alive because people really like it.”

Anderson said there are no plans to make huge changes to the pharmacy, although they have updated a few services, such as the ability that allows them to text patients when their prescriptions are ready. They are also always open to new ideas and are currently cultivating the success that the Tuckers created over the years, he said.

“I have to give them credit because they’ve done a lot,” Anderson said. “So I just try to think whoever owns it has to be a good tenant because it’s more than just a small business. It’s a need for the community. They did a great job, and hopefully we can continue from where they left off.”

Taking on the ownership of the pharmacy is a rewarding challenge for anyone, especially for Anderson who has yet to even reach 30 years of age.

“I hear that all that time,” he said, and added that most pharmacists will work for an owner until their late 30s or 40s before they take it over.

To balance out the rigorous demands that can come from running a pharmacy, Anderson hits the pavement during the early hours with his running shoes, where he aims to put in 50 miles a week to stay fit and refresh his head.

He commends all the employees who’ve helped keep the pharmacy booming over the years, and for their ability to weave the magic of a small-town atmosphere through the aisles of the business.

“Honestly, one of the biggest supports is the employees,” he said. “With this process, they’ve been committed and open to the change, and I have to give them a lot of credit because it’s not easy on their part and we are lucky to have them. I wish the community knew how much they did, how above and beyond they go. I think that’s what separates independent small town pharmacies from large chain stores because when [employees] leave for the day they are still identified with the pharmacy so when they go to the grocery store, they are getting questions, so they are a great asset.”

The Rockland Pharmacy is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.