Moser Pharmacy - Business owners announce retirement

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Jay and Kay Moser have sold their pharmacy to a Manchester couple who own stores in Strawberry Point and Sumner.

By Pam Reing

Register Editor

For more than 100 years, there’s been a pharmacy at the corner of Main and Cedar Streets in downtown Elkader. And for nearly 30 years, Jay and Kay Moser have been its owners. But that’s about to change. The building will remain a pharmacy but it will soon be under new ownership and new pharmacists will be standing behind its familiar raised counter.

Jay is retiring as Elkader’s longest serving pharmacist. He and Kay, who’s handled the business end of the operation, have sold Moser Pharmacy to Chris and Jenni Clayton, owners of stores in Strawberry Point and Sumner. The Elkader shop will be closed from April 28th-30th and will re-open May 1 as the couple’s third Clayton Drugstore.

“Change can be a difficult thing for those changing and for those affected by change,” said Kay, reflecting on the couple’s decision to retire. “Jay has served the community for basically 52 years counting his college days and after. He plans to still be at the store some but it’s time to check off some ‘bucket list’ items.”

Jay grew up on a farm near Millville and Kay on a farm near Morris, IL. They met at Drake, where Jay earned his pharmacy degree. They moved to Elkader shortly after their wedding in May 1972. 

Jay was a familiar face around town before the couple officially made Elkader their home. He worked at Schmidt Pharmacy, located in the building the couple now owns, during summers out of high school. He also did his internship there.

“We started our own pharmacy where Dr. Stender’s office is now located in 1986,” Kay said. “We bought the present building in 1990 and then bought the old Ben Franklin building in 1998 to expand. We started with just a couple of items on each shelf. We’re amazed by how it’s grown.”

A greatly expanded inventory is just one of many changes the couple’s have experienced. “The number of medicines has increased astronomically, and the number of diseases that can be cured or treated is amazing,” Jay said. “We’ve gone from giving a reasonable price to the patient to the price being set by PBMs (pharmacy benefits managers) and insurance companies. We’ve gone from lots of small-town independent pharmacies to big chains and mail orders.”

Other companies interested in purchasing their business have approached the Mosers. And while they could’ve sold sooner, they waited patiently for the right time and the right owners to come along.

“We turned down a number of other offers because they wanted to either close the pharmacy and take the prescriptions, wanted to start a tele-pharmacy or really didn’t want a pharmacy at all,” Kay said. “Our goal was to keep the pharmacy in Elkader and hopefully continue to provide the services people here need and want. We feel strongly that our town needs a local independent pharmacy so people can have easy access and help for their health needs. The Claytons have promised to do just that.”

The Claytons are Iowa natives who both earned pharmacy degrees at the University of Iowa. They make their home in Manchester.

In addition to their thriving business, the Mosers have been active in a number of Elkader groups and activities. Jay is a Mason and both he and Kay are active in the Elkader Opera House. Kay is the manager and Jay has created some of the theater’s most memorable roles. Their commitment to the community will remain unchanged.

“You definitely will not be getting rid of us,” Jay said. “We may go on trips but Elkader is our home and we plan to continue to be an active part of this wonderful community.”

Kay added, “Jay is looking forward to golfing more and just having the option to pick up and go when he wants!”

Though both Mosers are looking forward to this new chapter in their lives, they readily admit there’s much about the pharmacy they’ll miss.

“I always enjoyed the customers and will miss joking and visiting with them,” Jay said, adding that he and Kay were grateful for the support of the people who work for them now and in the past. “We definitely couldn’t have succeeded without them. We will miss the day-to-day contact with everyone!”

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