This is an archived article that was published on in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Editor's note • In this regular series, The Salt Lake Tribune explores the once-favorite places of Utahns, from restaurants to recreation to retail. If you have a spot you'd like us to explore, email with your ideas.

Midvale • In the 1940s and '50s, when Salt Lake Valley residents were craving a cherry Coke or chocolate malt, they would hop in the Dodge Desoto or Ford Fairlane and drive to Midvale's Vincent Drug.

"At one time, it had the greatest soda fountain in the state," explains JoAnn Seghini, Midvale mayor and lifelong resident.

Like many who grew up in the south valley, Seghini had her first job at the drugstore making shakes, sodas and sundaes. "In its heyday," she said, "it was the place to go."

Riverton, Sandy, South Jordan and West Jordan were still mostly agricultural areas and had yet to develop their own shopping districts.

Midvale's Main Street, however, had plenty of shops, including a J.C. Penney, a movie theater and Vincent Drug.

"My three siblings and I all worked there," remembers Mark Vincent, whose father, Kent, ran the drugstore from 1971 until it closed about 10 years ago. "We learned to work and developed a lot of the character traits we have today."

A family business for three generations, the Vincent children have heard dozens of stories from those who worked and shopped at the store.

Vincent said his father — as well as uncle Richard, grandfather Norval and great-grandfather Willis — were dedicated to the business, staying open late, making home deliveries, cashing checks for blue-collar workers, anything to accommodate customers.

"It wasn't just about getting a prescription filled and leaving," said Vincent, who saw how difficult it was for his father to run a small business as mass retailers and big-box stores took over.

"Dad just couldn't compete with the prices," said Vincent, who went to law school and now works in the U.S. attorney office. None of his siblings became pharmacists either.

Phosphates, family and fun • Willis Vincent opened the business in 1911 as a saloon. He rented space inside Booth Mercantile at 71 N. Main for $60 a month. When Prohibition came, Willis was forced to convert the saloon — one of a dozen in Midvale at the time — into a drugstore.

Vincent Drug changed hands several times. When Willis became ill, he sold half the business to a brother-in-law, Harry Miller, and the name changed to Vincent-Miller Drug. After Willis died, Miller became the sole owner, and the store became just Miller Drug.

When Harry Miller retired, he sold to a nephew, Norval, who changed the name back to Vincent Drug and moved the business to its most recent location at 21 N. Main.

Hoping to separate Vincent Drug from Midvale Drug just a few doors down, Norval added a soda fountain with a long counter and nearly two-dozen stools, where diners could enjoy fresh-made sodas and milkshakes as well as sandwiches and hamburgers. Mark Vincent said the female employees worked the fountain and the cash registers while the boys stocked the shelves and made the syrups for the fountain drinks.

Many people were partial to the iron port, a type of cream soda, he said, while others came in for the sweet/tart cherry phosphates.

"In the summertime, strawberry was always a favorite because fresh strawberries were blended and then mixed with the simple syrup," according to a history of the drugstore written in 1992 by Jessie Graff.

In 1952, when Norval died, his eldest son, Richard, took over the business. He expanded and remodeled the space, updating the pharmacy, adding merchandise and moving the fountain to the back of the shop. About 20 years later, Ken, his younger brother, took over the business.


Screen shots • In addition to being a south valley icon, Vincent Drug also has impressive Hollywood credentials.

It was featured in the popular 1993 film "The Sandlot" and has been the set for LDS Church commercials, the "Halloween 4" and "Halloween 5" movies, Stephen King's "The Stand," and the "Touched By an Angel" TV series, filmed in Utah.

Most recently, Vincent Drug was used for the pilot of a new ABC series called "Oil." The drama, which will air Sundays beginning this fall, revolves around an evil oil baron (Don Johnson of "Miami Vice") and a young couple (Chace Crawford of "Gossip Girl" and Rebecca Rittenhouse of "Red Band Society") who go to North Dakota to make their fortune.

Mark Vincent recalls a family tale about filmmakers who offered to pay $1,000 a day for the use of the drugstore, but Kent Vincent countered that $800 would be enough.

"When my younger brother asked him what he was thinking, my father said, 'This will be good for the store, the city, and it will give the employees something to talk about,' " Vincent recalled. "He said, 'This just might make them want to come back and rent it again.' "

Some previous 'Whatever happened to...'