Pharmacy serves Austin for three generations

Celebrating its 50th year of business in October, Northwest Hills in Davenport, a pharmacy and gift shop, is doing its part to keep the local drug store alive in the Austin area.

What started in 1962 as Highland Park Pharmacy in the Highland Park Shopping Center in Hancock by the late Clyde Sansing has moved three times over the years and expanded into gifts, wedding invitations, and at one time had a florist department.

After the pharmacy moved the first time, in 1978, to Far West Boulevard in Northwest Austin, Sansing became ill and his sons, Tom and the late Jack, took a more active role in the business.

Jack envisioned a community gift shop, whereas Tom followed his father's footsteps by becoming a pharmacist, getting his degree from the University of Houston.

"I first started working for my dad after school when I was in fifth grade. In junior high, I started working summers," Tom said.

Tom, who still owns and runs the pharmacy, said following in his dad's footsteps was his motivating factor for becoming a pharmacist.

"I always admired my dad, I really did. So, I wanted to be a pharmacist in third or fourth grade," Tom said. "What I like about [being a pharmacist] now, as opposed to then—when I just wanted to be like my dad—is working with people. It's the most gratifying part. Now I'm working with people who have literally seen me grow up."

The pharmacy still delivers pharmaceuticals to people's homes for free within a certain distance from the store, and medicine can be delivered to most homes in the Central Texas area for $6–$10.

Tom's son Greg and his wife, Caitlin, now run the retail side of the business.

Like his father, Greg wanted to carry on the family tradition of running the business and attended Texas Christian University for a degree in marketing.

He began working in the store as a young boy and didn't want to see the business stop because of him.

"I've always wanted to do this. Originally I was even trying to be a pharmacist, but I couldn't pass the biology exam. Chemistry wasn't hard, but biology was, so I switched my major about halfway through and still finished in four years," Greg said.

But the change in majors suited Greg's personality.

"I knew I always wanted to come back and do this. I like interacting with the customers and buying the merchandise a little bit better than counting by five all day," he said.

While at college, he met Caitlin, who also has a degree in marketing.

In 1998, the Davenport Village location opened, and the family was running two stores at once until they decided to close the Far West location in 2008.

Now the owner plans on focusing his efforts on building the Davenport clientele.

"We like the neighborhood we're in over here and have been able to maintain relationships in Northwest Austin as well," Tom said.

Northwest Hills in Davenport, 3801 N. Capital of Texas Hwy., Ste. D-120, 329-8667,