By Tia Lynn Lecorchick Unexpected Dream comes True for two Madison business owners. he new owners the Madison Drug Company, Gary and Luanne Whetzel, have finally achieved a lifelong dream to run a store of their own that serves the community. The Madison Drug Company, located on Main Street in downtown Madison, is an iconic establishment that holds a special place in the hearts of longtime Madison citizens. The nearly century-old store, previously owned by City Councilman Bobby Crawford for 30 plus years, has been a staple of Madison since 1917. A grand opening ceremony will be held on Oct. 18 by the Chamber of Commerce for the Whetzels. Gary Whetzel partnered with Crawford about 15 years ago and was honored to take over the store entirely after Crawford’s retirement in May. For the Whetzels, this development has allowed them the opportunity to fully realize a longtime dream, to own and operate their own store in a way that helps the community and honors God. But the road was not without obstacles and detours, according to Luanne Whetzel. Gary Whetzel had served in the Air Force as a P3 pilot, and the couple had planned to minister to people through Gary’s gifts of flying. “We assumed that is how God would use us,” remembered Luanne Whetzel. “When that didn’t happen, we just really didn’t know what to do with our lives anymore.” After Gary got out of the Air Force, he worked for Eastern Airlines, but the airline went bankrupt and collapsed in 1988. The unexpected fall out left the Whetzel’s without jobs and without a vision for the future. They returned to Madison that year, and began rebuilding their lives. Gary Whetzel attended the University of Georgia School of Pharmacy and found a new career path that he could use to help people. Luanne, who once worked at a Christian Bookstore in northern Kentucky, made a promise to God that if He were to ever give her and her husband any square-footage of a business, she would dedicate a portion of that space to a Christian Bookstore. “And that is exactly what we have done with the Madison Drug Company,” said Luanne Whetzel through tears. “It’s been a long time coming, but we finally have our own store and can serve the community the way we’ve always dreamed of doing.” “It’s very important to us,” continued Luanne Whetzel. “Gary and I asked ourselves so many times, ‘why?’ Why when you have it in your mind that things will go a certain way, that there are things you are supposed to do, why didn’t it work out? Gary had a passion for flying and it didn’t work out that way and we just realized that we needed to step out in faith. And now look, he ended up in a career where he could minister to the public in the area of pharmacy and I have ended up with an opportunity to minister to the public through a Chrtistian Bookstore.” Since the Whetzels obtained ownership in May, they have been working diligently to completely renovate the beloved drug store. The couple transformed The Grill into a throwback 1950s diner. They have added a Christian Bookstore inside, and have added various kinds of merchandise that appeals to all ages. “We interjected bright and cheerful colors with a retro feel,” said Luanne Whetzel, who noted that the store now carries a wider array of household accessories, clothing, table-top items, décor, and specialized personalization through vinyl and monogramming services. The Christian Bookstore is already yielding the meaningful moments Luanne had always hoped for. “A mother came in to buy her daughter’s first Bible. It was the first Bible I had sold, so it was a big moment for her and a big moment for me,” said Luanne. “It’s a dream come true and our prayer is that we would remain humble and serve in the way that God calls us too.” Luanne believes that people coming into a Christian Bookstore are just as likely to come in looking for a hug as they are a book. “People are struggling and we want to be there in the way that we can,” said Luanne Whetzel. “Plus, even in this age of the Kindles and electronic devices, people still love to hold and feel and underline a book to have as a reference and that’s what we hope to provide.” Gary and Luanne Whetzel hope the community will continue to embrace and support the store in its latest incarnation. “We love the community, the community is very important to us and we don’t take their business for granted,” said Luanne Whetzel.