Overton Square is definitely a huge landmark in Memphis, but it wasn’t always bustling with businesses. One store, Maggie’s Pharm, made it through the Square’s lull in the seventies and is now celebrating their 40th anniversary of being in business! I’ve been frequenting Maggie’s Pharm for around three years now, and I wanted to dig a little deeper, so I got in contact with the owner Elizabeth “Beaver” O’Cain to get a better idea of the store’s history, mission, and offerings.
I asked Elizabeth what it was like to be one of the only shops open from back in the seventies and she said:
“There were certainly other shops in Overton Square back in its heyday and I was amongst many great entrepreneurs, like John Simmons, Bombay Bicycle Club, Solomon Alfreds, Burkle’s Bakery, Lafayette’s, and this great candy shop, just to name a few. As a whole, Overton Square became almost deserted around the economic collapse in 2008 until we began seeing some real traction again in 2015. Those several years were tough for many but we are and always have been a destination shop for our many loyal customers. I mean people would make what seemed like a vacation out of coming to shop at Maggie’s from the suburbs, Arkansas, and Mississippi.”
If you’ve never been there, Maggie’s Pharm is a natural herbal pharmacy, hence the “Pharm”—it’s not just some quirky spelling. Some of what they’ve done has stayed the same since the beginning, like selling medicinal herbs, teas, spices, and oils, both essential and perfume that you can mix match to create your own custom scent. They’ve also incorporated new things along the way; starting their own private label of natural soaps, lotions, and essential oils, offering a “Farm to Pharm” line of CBD oil that is locally sourced, and organically grown, and keeping their gift shop stocked with the candles, cards, and trickets that’ll help you channel that good energy.
“It doesn’t feel like work. It’s more like meeting up with my friends,” Cain said.
Since Elizabeth is a practicing herbalist, she gives her customers lots of information on herbal remedies for health and physical problems that they may be having. Local doctors, as well as veterinarians, have also referred patients to Maggie’s Pharm for natural solutions to medical problems.
“A lot of people are stocking up on herbs to help build their immune system such as Echinacea, Astragalus, and Green Power mix that we have in capsule form. Many use CBD for chronic pain and anxiety, and we have it in full spectrum and topical form. We blend our own teas for help with issues such as cold and respiratory, sleep, oh and an intestinal brewing tea that helps keep things moving.”
Maggie’s Pharm’s 40th year hasn’t exactly been an easy one since they’ve closed to the public due to COVID-19, but the Pharm Family is still holding strong thanks to their loyal customer base. Whether you need a peppermint salve to get rid of those pesky headaches, a sage smudge to cleanse a corner in your home, or a Vitamin C Serum and eye cream to remove the stress of life from your face, the Pharm is still doing their best to keep customers stocked up with what they need via email ordering that can either be shipped directly to you or picked up curbside by basket-delivery off of their porch. *Online ordering coming soon*
“It doesn’t feel like work. It’s more like meeting up with my friends. While I’d love to throw open the doors right now, we want everyone to stay safe, and this is the best way we know how to operate right now.”