State's Oldest Pharmacy's Located in Joliet

J. D. Brown has been in business since 1844.

Dave Umek says the reason that J.D. Brown Pharmacy continues to be so successful is because they have not changed their business in more than 160 years.

"We're still an apothecary store," he said. "We're all medical; we don't sell box fans or coffee makers."

Of course today, the pharmacy looks much different than it would have in 1844, when the business would have had leeches on the shelves.

Umek is the manager of durable medical equipment in the family run business. In the building on Plainfield Road, Umek works alongside his wife, Jill Umek and his daughter Stephanie. The business was bought by Umek's father-in-law, Ken Pritz, in the early 1960s. It was the first time a non-relative of the Brown Family owned the business.

And while the business has had to change with the times, the attention they pay to their customers is something that has been in place for some time.

"We're a pharmacy that still delivers," Umek said.

Carrying a variety of medical goods, including special undergarments and swimsuits for women who have had mastectomies, makes J.D. Brown a destination in the city.

"The medical equipment part of it is more recent," Umek said. "It's more popular because people don't stay in the hospital as long."

J.D. Brown carries large supplies such as hospital beds and wheelchairs, and smaller items such as compression hose and a wide variety of supplies for wound care.

Umek said while he has a strong customer base that have made J.D. Brown part of their tradition, new customers find him primarily through word of mouth. For Umek, the customers are the best part of his job.

"It's always been the people," he said.

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