Sell-4-Less Drugstore

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Sell-4-Less Drugs and Liquor store Pharmacists: Rudy C. Hornsten, Harry Owston, Arlis Jones, Ken Garret. 1963
Sell-4-Less sold pharmaceuticals as well as liquor. Pharmacists, left to right: Rudy C. Hornsten, Harry Owston, Arlis Jones, Ken Garret. c.1963

In a simpler time when people grew up and stayed in the local area, when there was less money and fewer things to do, the local drugstore served many purposes. Certainly, prescriptions were filled there, but one could buy many other kinds of things, like fishing and hunting supplies, toys, personal items, and most of all, ice cream and soft drinks at the soda fountain. The Sell-4-Less Drugstore, located in downtown Littleton, had a vintage soda fountain along one side of the store and it boasted excellent sodas, milkshakes and ice cream dishes. This was the place to go; the afternoon destination of students from the surrounding schools. Adults would stop in also, learn the latest gossip and discuss local politics. Racing fans from the Centennial Race Track would drop in after a day at the races. The owner stocked veterinarian supplies and had a tack shop in the back of the store.

The original building was constructed in about 1902 by August Kauer. F.C. Eberle of Denver was the architect, and T.F. Jull the contractor. The two-story structure was built of brick with lava stone trim. Two storefronts on the first floor were divided into the Kauer Meat Market and another store. Kauer used the basement to cure meat and make sausage, and the second floor was utilized as two apartments, one for the Kauers and another to rent. In 1905, the additional store was occupied by Caley Groceries while Kauer had taken a partner and his store was named Kauer and Kinkel Meats. Later, Piepers' Butcher Shop moved in to the block and by 1939, a drugstore occupied the butcher shop store. This drugstore was known as the Service Drug Company, owned by T.K. McCain. It contained a soda fountain that had to be kept stocked with ice and salt for refrigeration. It also had several booths of mahogany and leather.

Sell-4-Less Drugstore on Main Street and Nevada
Sell-4-Less Drugs on the corner of Main Street and Nevada, date unknown.

This corner storefront at 219 W. Main Street (now 2500 W. Main Street) stood next to Moore's Grocery and Lemcke's Meat Market to the west. Above the store on the second floor the two apartments had become the Malcolm Apartments.

Rudy Hornsten created the Sell-4-Less, opening it for business on May 26, 1942. He was born in Iowa and grew up in Denver. After high school he attended Capitol College of Pharmacy in Denver. A few years later he served in the navy. In 1942, he bought the store in Littleton and expanded it toward the back, nearly doubling the size. He took out the booths and replaced the soda fountain with a brand new one. He built another addition in 1945 and extensively remodeled it in 1958. The popular period for the drugstore was from 1942-1983.

Sell-4-Less Drugstore Interior Details
An advertisement that appeared in the Littleton Independent in 1948 included the Sell-4-Less Drug Store employees.

The soda fountain at the drugstore had a black marble top. The counter stools were chrome with red or black vinyl seats. Behind the counter the best malts and shakes were created for customers, young or old. Once after a football game win, a large crowd of teens came over for sodas while the Littleton marching band played victory songs outside. Rudy maintained long hours at the drugstore, and would often take phone calls to fill prescriptions in the middle of the night, and then deliver the prescriptions.

Some of the drugstore employees worked long term, "a decade or two," and their parents also worked for Hornsten. One of the waitresses had worked there for 22 years. An attraction for adults was the best cup of coffee in town, and the conversation. Liquor was sold in the back of the store, only to adults.

An advertisement that appeared in the Littleton Independent in 1948 included the Sell-4-Less Drug Store employees
The drugstore had a soda fountain, liquor store, prescription department, magazine and cigarette counter, and hundreds of thousands of drug items and pharmaceutical supplies.

 

 

In 1983, Hornsten sold the drugstore. The new owner maintained it as the Sell-4-Less Drugstore but took out the soda fountain, suggesting it was a losing part of the store. Rudy agreed, but was still sorry to see it go.

Centennial Race Track closed in the early 1980's and the racing crowd no longer came into the store. Also in the 1980's, Littleton experienced a decline in the downtown area. These factors had a detrimental effect on the drugstore. In January 1989, the drugstore closed for good. Downtown Littleton no longer had a drugstore-- for the first time in more than 60 years.

 Drugstore 2015
Sell-4-Less Drugstore building, 2015.  Photo by Amelia Martinez.

 

 

Bibliography

Littleton (Colo.) Independent. The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-

Littleton Sentinel Independent. The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-

Simmons, R. Laurie and Thomas H. Simmons. "Historic Buildings Survey, Littleton, Colorado, Littleton Townsite of 1890." Survey forms. Three volumes. Denver: Front Range Research Associates, Inc., 1997, 1998.

Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum, unless otherwise noted; to order copies, contact the Museum at 303-795-3950.

 

Compiled by Rebecca Dorward
Edited by Phyllis Larison and Lorena Donohue

Updated May 2017