A customer reads a "store closing" sign Thursday in the window at Walgreens at 100 N. Grand in Houston. The corporation announced Jan. 13 that it was closing the establishment on March 7. On Friday, the decision was reversed.

Houston’s downtown drug store — an institution at Grand Avenue and Pine Street since 1866 — received a reprieve from closing on Friday.

A Walgreens management employee in a telephone call that afternoon relayed that the business would not close March 7 and the store would continue to operate. The announcement wasn’t a total surprise to employees who were encouraged in recent days by efforts by civic leaders and elected officials, as well as an outpouring from loyal customers.

The reversal was good news for the store, as some customers had already started the process of transferring some prescriptions.

The giant drug store chain told employees on Friday, Jan. 13, that it planned to close the Houston location, as well as storefronts in Willow Springs and Malden in the Bootheel. Others were located across the United States were set to shutter — stretching the country from New York City on Feb. 23 to Bakersfield, Calif., on Feb. 28.

Closing signage was already in windows at the Houston location, which is owned by a local family.

“A lot of calls, texts and emails have taken place the last few weeks,” said Bennie Cook, R-Houston, who was instrumental in communication with Walgreens government affairs employees who serve Missouri. That effort also included the participation of U.S. Rep. Jason Smith of Salem. Civic groups — such as the Industrial  Development Authority of Houston and Downtown Houston Inc. — also made contact with the corporation.

“This was a definitely a community effort, and I was honored to help,” Cook said.

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  1. I love living here in Houston, MO. Our people here really care about us and are willing to go to bat for us when we need them to! A huge thanks to Bennie Cook, Jason Smith, and all the others who worked hard to make this happen! Proud to be a member of this amazing community!

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