About Us

Ochs Family PharmacistS - Celebrating Over 100 Years At Central Drug Store Serving Charlevoix and Beaver Island

The store was founded by F.N. Chapel in 1897, who sold it to B.A. Herman. In 1914, after completing a six month pharmacy program at the Ferris Institute (now Ferris State University), Harley Ochs came from Roscommon to work at the store as a pharmacist apprentice. He would take a steam train to Boyne City, where he boarded a steam boat that brought him to Charlevoix.

Harley worked at the pharmacy for Mr. Herman until 1929 when he bought the business. Shortly thereafter, the Great Depression set in. There were times that Harley had very little money, but his family still ate well as many of his patients paid in produce and livestock.

He married Mildred Shockley in 1916, with whom he had two sons: Frank and James W (Bill). Both sons worked at the store from age 13 until they graduated college. Both also served in Europe during World War II: Bill was in the army, and Frank, after completing the pharmacy program at Ferris in 1941, was a pharmacist mate in the Navy.

During the War, Mildred posted a picture of each of her sons in the front window. When asked about the pictures, she said that “her sons were serving in the War, and that their pictures would remain there until they returned.” Others asked to post pictures of their children and loved ones as well, and before long, the entire window was full of pictures of young men (and perhaps women) from the community who were serving in the military!

After returning from the war, Frank worked for Harley, partnering with him in 1954 until buying the store outright in the mid-1960's. Frank continued working at the store until his death at age 88, a total of 75 years!

Frank's children, John and Virginia, also worked at the store from an early age through college graduation. Both attended Ferris State; John graduated in 1969 and Virginia in 1973. After working as a research pharmacist for Upjohn until 1982, John bought the store from his father and moved his family (wife Lani, and sons Tom and Michael) to Charlevoix. John and Lani have shared the pharmacist duties since that time, and are proud to have carried on the Ochs legacy at the corner of Bridge and Clinton Streets!