CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you grew up in Corpus Christi odds are this store has been a part of your childhood memories.
After more than 60 years, Hamlin Fountain and Gifts originally opened as a pharmacy with a full diner and gift shop will close on May 7. David Loeb, owner of the shopping center Hamlin has called home for decades, said the closing is significant to many.
“People don’t think about it now with modern pharmacies, but that was the 1950’s, 60’s version of a pharmacy,” Loeb said. "I remember going there as a small kid. It’s hard to find somebody who grew up here, especially in this part of town who doesn’t have a memory of going there.”
As times changed, so did the business. Originally named Hamlin Pharmacy, it was one of the last independent pharmacies after Eckerd Corporation bought most of the competition. Eckerd was later bought by CVS Pharmacy.
Owner and pharmacist Karl Arnold removed the pharmacy part of the business and left the rest. It still remained a favorite for locals like Dinah Bowman.
“Ever since I probably moved to Corpus I've been coming to this lovely center to enjoy their iconic hamburgers and for gift shopping," Bowman said. "And we wanted to come and celebrate with their closing.”
Arnold died in March of 2021, passing the business down to his daughter Karen. Bowman said she has enjoyed coming to lunch there with her daughter for years.
“This place is just a treasure," Bowman said. "And I wish the people all the best in their coming new life and I hope another similar store is able to come in.”
The question of why close the business now, is about timing. Loeb said the current owners are ready to move on and that the last few years were especially challenging for restaurants like Hamlin.
“It’s very rare to have a multi-generational business that lasts as long as this one did, I mean it’s been going 60, 65 years at this point." Loeb said. "She had been thinking about retiring and what to do with the business even before COVID and I think she just finally made the decision that it was time to retire and enjoy her life and enjoy her grandkids."
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