Mary Kirkland, longtime owner of Hilton Pharmacy, at the store last December when the Marysville drugstore marked its 100th anniversary. She has sold the pharmacy portion of the business, but will soon reopen as a gift shop, Hilton & Company, in the same Third Street location. (Dan Bates/Herald file)

Mary Kirkland, longtime owner of Hilton Pharmacy, at the store last December when the Marysville drugstore marked its 100th anniversary. She has sold the pharmacy portion of the business, but will soon reopen as a gift shop, Hilton & Company, in the same Third Street location. (Dan Bates/Herald file)

Hilton name and gift store to live on after sale of pharmacy

Marysville druggist sells portion of century-old business to Rite Aid, but her shop’s getting a reboot.

As a little girl, Mary Kirkland loved playing store. The drugstore her great-grandfather bought 101 years ago became Hilton Pharmacy & Gifts, a Marysville institution.

She remembers helping out — cleaning counters and washing glasses — at a Marysville tavern and sporting goods store her grandfather, Frank Hilton, had on State Avenue. In 1984, she bought Hilton Pharmacy, a fixture on the southeast corner of State and Third Street, and has run it ever since.

“Oh my goodness, I’m still playing store,” she said Monday. But her store at 220 State Ave. is closed and empty.

The 69-year-old Kirkland isn’t headed for retirement, not just yet. She was there working away Monday as she prepares to renovate and transform the 4,000-square foot space into a gift and specialty shop. A sign in the window and a banner on Facebook tell the next chapter: “Thank you Marysville! See you this fall when we re-open as Hilton & Company.”

Kirkland has sold the pharmacy portion of her business to Rite Aid. The last day to fill prescriptions at Hilton Pharmacy was Aug. 4, she wrote in a July 22 letter to customers. On Aug. 5, prescription records were transferred electronically to the Rite Aid across the street at 251 Marysville Mall. Those records will be accessible at other Rite Aid pharmacies, Kirkland said.

A 1973 graduate of the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, Kirkland said the sale to Rite Aid will eventually help with her retirement income. “It was just time,” she said, explaining how her age and challenges in the pharmacy business played into her decision to let go of that piece of her store.

She is critical of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), powerful and profitable entities that negotiate payment rates for a large share of prescription drugs distributed in the United States. Kirkland likens their fees to credit card processing companies charging businesses for each transaction.

Pharmacy benefit managers, according to the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association trade group, administer prescription drug plans for millions of Americans with commercial health plans, union plans, Medicare Part D and managed Medicaid plans, and others. The trade group, on its website, says pharmacy benefit managers cut costs in a number of ways, among them encouraging the use of generics, negotiating rebates from drug manufacturers, and managing high-cost medications.

In Kirkland’s view, the complex process has “nickeled and dimed us to death.”

“The pharmacy industry is so complex, even the government and pharmacists don’t understand it,” she said. “Reimbursements are not enough.” It hadn’t been her hope to sell to a large corporation rather than an independent pharmacist, but Kirkland said Rite Aid was “very fair.” The Rite Aid Corporation operates about 2,500 stores in 19 states.

Leaving pharmacy behind, she’s excited to build on what was already a store that featured an eclectic mix of merchandise — baby gifts, classic toys, women’s wardrobe pieces and accessories, home goods, wellness items and seasonal decor.

“Pharmacy” will be gone from the store’s name, but “Hilton” lives on. Kirkland said Hilton & Company seemed just right for the corner store that has become a Marysville landmark.

Jeffrey Hilton Sr., a Marysville farmer and former coal miner, bought his drugstore in December 1919. With his wife, Mary, he raised 11 children. His great-granddaughter, Mary Kirkland, has closed the pharmacy but will continue her business as a gift shop. (Photo courtesy Mary Kirkland)

Jeffrey Hilton Sr., a Marysville farmer and former coal miner, bought his drugstore in December 1919. With his wife, Mary, he raised 11 children. His great-granddaughter, Mary Kirkland, has closed the pharmacy but will continue her business as a gift shop. (Photo courtesy Mary Kirkland)

She’s the sole owner, but said the name is a nod to the store’s past and “the company we keep.” In her letter to customers, Kirkland wrote that it’s been “a true honor” to have carried on the legacy of previous owners, including her great-uncle, Jeffrey Hilton Jr., and mentor Clyde Lashua.

Kirkland infused a Facebook announcement with a bit of fun. “We’re quitting drugs,” she wrote in a post that showed a graphic of the Rx symbol with a red line through it. In online comments, customers welcomed the change. “So glad you are keeping the store. Hiltons is a shining jewel in our community,” one Facebook commenter said.

With the streetscape along Third recently updated, Kirkland sees “a little vibe kind of starting” in the area that includes newer businesses, such as 5 Rights Brewing Company, as well as Oosterwyk’s Dutch Bakery and other longtime destinations.

“I’m so happy I’m still going to have a store,” she said. “I want the joy of gathering, being a hostess.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

WSDOT workers open up the Smokey Point Rest Area on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Free coffee will be back soon at Smokey Point rest areas

Everett’s Silver Lake rest area for southbound I-5 drivers remains closed while WSDOT works on the facility.

The Everett Music Initiative team, (from left) Ryan Crowther, Nate Feaster and Michael Hannon. (Everett Music Initiative)
As Everett Music Initiative turns 10, downtown no longer a ‘ghost town’

The group will celebrate its birthday Thursday night with a party to kick off the eighth Fisherman’s Village Music Fest.

Everett
Pro skateboarding competition coming to Everett in August

Street League Skateboarding’s championship tour will be at Angel of the Winds arena for two days.

Drivers heading north on Interstate 5 will take a detour from Highway 104 to 220th Street SW and back to I-5 this weekend during nightly lane closures for Sound Transit light rail work. (Sound Transit)
Light rail work closing I-5 North lanes nightly this weekend

Crews need to close northbound lanes between 220th Street SW and Highway 104. Drivers have two detour options.

Doug Ewing looks out over a small section of the Snohomish River that he has been keeping clean for the last ten years on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at the Oscar Hoover Water Access Site in Snohomish, Washington. Ewing scours the shorelines and dives into the depths of the river in search of trash left by visitors, and has removed 59 truckloads of litter from the quarter-mile stretch over the past decade. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Diving for trash in Snohomish River, biologist fills 59 pickup beds

At Thomas’ Eddy, Doug Ewing estimates he has collected 3,000 pounds of lead fishing weights. And that’s just one spot.

Epic Ford on the corner of 52nd Street and Evergreen Way in Everett is closed. The dealership has been in business for more than 50 years. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
After 50 years, Everett’s Epic Ford dealership closes shop

It opened in 1971, when gas guzzling muscle cars like the Ford Mustang still ruled the road.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
A climate bill that died in Legislature lives on, in plans for future

A bill requiring cities and counties to cut greenhouse gases failed to pass, but they’re planning to do it anyway.

Most of Compass Health’s clinical employees at the Marysville, Monroe and Snohomish sites will transfer to its Everett locations. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Lawsuit blames counselor’s ‘unethical’ relationship for Marysville man’s death

Joshua Klick was referred to a counselor at Compass Health. Two years later he was shot and killed.

Five 2021 stories in the Herald won Excellence in Journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.
The Daily Herald brings home awards from annual journalism competition

The Herald got three first place wins and three runner-up spots in SPJ’s Northwest Excellence in Journalism.

Most Read