History of Our Store
In 1964, Wes and Ann Jespersen built a gateway to the past where today, the family tradition continues to thrive in Downtown Duncanville. Ben Franklin (Store #4545) first opened in Duncanville, Texas at 611 E. Camp Wisdom Road on October 22, 1964 in a small a small shopping area. During that time, market surveys indicated that Duncanville needed a modern, well-stocked, efficient run variety store. The town was too small for a major chain, so a Ben Franklin store seemed to be the answer. The Jespersens purchased a Ben Franklin franchise, leased a building in Fair North shopping center near Camp Wisdom/Oriole, and opened for business.
At that particular time, Red Bird Mall was a horse farm; Camp Wisdom was two twisting lanes from Highway 67; Main Street was two lanes and the First National Bank had only two tellers. Their first business neighbors included Key Rexall Drug, L&S Grocery Store, V&J Auto Parts, and Charlie’s Barber Shop. Every economic indicator said Duncanville was going to grow, and grow it did.
In 1967, a map from the Texas Highway Department was published that had a "red line" that went through the northern section of Duncanville. That was the beginning of Interstate 20. After several public hearings, the route was set and most the Fair North Shopping Center was consumed as a right of way. It was evident to Wes that the growth of that center was stymied which required the moving of many businesses, including the Ben Franklin store.
In 1969, a vacancy on Main Street became available which was an old Patton & Hood's Grocery store, and the Jespersen's purchased the building through a public auction. In 1970, Ben Franklin moved to its current location at 302 N. Main Street and has expanded several times due to the growing business needs. The first major expansion was completed in May 1973 when the restaurant property next door was purchased to add an additional 3,000 sq. feet. The five-and-dime store continued to be a thriving family-owned business and became a hallmark in the city's downtown district.
In the beginning, almost all Ben Franklin stores were individually or corporately owned by the operators. The former parent company, Ben Franklin Retail Store Inc., sold a franchise to the owner and agreed to furnish various programs, such as merchandising methods, wholesaler access and leasing help, if needed. The stores have their own individual operating status and their only connection is the use of the Ben Franklin franchise system & business friendships. The parent company of Ben Franklin changed ownerships several times and ultimately filed for bankruptcy in 1996. Wes Jespersen actually broke away from using the corporation as a wholesale distributor in the early 1970's and the demise of the parent company had no impact on our local business. At one point, there were actually two Ben Franklin stores in Duncanville, but under different ownership.
In January 1980, the business expanded by adding a complete pharmacy to the back corner of the facility to serve the Duncanville community, Ben Franklin Apothecary. A separate department and the space was rented & operated by Wes & Ann's oldest son, Dan Jespersen. Being a graduate of Duncanville High School and recently completing Pharmacy School from the University of Nebraska, Dan continued the family heritage of running the store by bringing his expertise in the pharmacy industry back to his hometown of Duncanville. Dan's commitment to his patients and the entire staff's passion for helping our patients' immediate medical needs or working with them to maintain a healthy lifestyle contributed to the huge growth for our company and the pharmacy. The pharmacy accepts most insurance plans; is an approved Medicare provider for prescriptions; has a Diabetes Shoppe; ostomy and colostomy items; and all types of medical equipment (walkers, wheelchairs, canes, & other health aides). The pharmacy also has the facilities and the ability to compound medications and flavor medications for kids. Delivery service is also offered, if needed. Dan has been recognized in the region for several years in winning many "Reader's Choice Awards" for the Best Pharmacy from local publications including the Duncanville Today, Suburban, and Focus Daily News.
Back in the 1920's, every drugstore had a soda fountain. Soda "jerks" would have their recipe manual memorized and would be ready to serve up all sorts of popular drinks or remedies. The golden age of soda fountains continued until the 1950's and was thought to be a thing of the past. However, in May 1995 Ben Franklin Apothecary further expanded our business and added onto the nostalgic atmosphere of our store. The addition of "Kitchens Deli" brought an old-fashioned soda fountain and deli to our business establishment. The deli offers over 25 different kinds of sandwiches. jumbo stuffed baked potatoes, soups, salads, and homemade desserts including Blue Bell hand-dipped cones, malts, shakes, sodas, and fountain-made drinks. We offer dine-in or delivery to your work, home, or school. We also cater for any special occasions. Still today, we make drinks the old-fashioned way, and you can order a wide variety of old-school classics from one of our soda "jerks" at Kitchens Deli. The deli has become a regular lunch spot for our community and is well known for our specialty sandwiches, jumbo baked potatoes, & the wide variety of desserts.
In 1999, Dan Jespersen purchased the entire business from his father and immediately began a complete remodel of the entire building. Now a staple landmark of the city's Downtown District, a clock tower was added to the front of the store and the entire outside of the building was redone to improve the overall atmospherics of the building. The upgrade included wood floors throughout the entire store, a clock & light tower with flowing flags, the 1950’s décor in the deli, and upgraded the pharmacy salesfloor. The remodel also helped improve access for customers from Main Street, enhanced the layout of the store, made the store easily shoppable, and improved the overall impression of the area. Completed in 2001, the entire city celebrated with a ribbon cutting & events to commemorate the continued success & expansion of the family owned business. Even today, Ben Franklin strives to be actively involved with several projects to improve the Downtown Duncanville district. Steve Martin, President of the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce recently stated that Ben Franklin Apothecary is the anchor for our Main Street revitalization initiatives.
On October 22, 2004, Ben Franklin Apothecary celebrated its 40th anniversary of serving the Duncanville community. Friends, past co-workers, and loyal customers from throughout the town came to celebrate this milestone occasion with the Jespersen Family. No doubt, it has been a servant to the community for over 40 years, and the Jespersen Family looks forward to many more years of helping others.
Ben Franklin Apothecary has continued to expand and improve throughout the years. Dan Jespersen purchased the building next to their current location increasing their current sales floor an additional 3,000 square feet. The grand re-opening for this building was November 2007, and the new building called, Preserving Memories, features an expanded quilting center and monogramming center, and more space for all your favorite gifts & boutique items.
A first-class compounding center, as well as two up-to-date offices for management level and store working personnel, was completed in August 2009. All in all, the new expansion has created a positive environment for Ben Franklin Apothecary employees and customers.
Duncanville lost a legend and a community visionary when longtime resident & founder of our company, Wes Jespersen died on April 2, 2008. The family and members of the Duncanville community celebrated his life and long-time commitment in serving others. Wes will always be remembered for his hard work, dedication to the store, willingness to give to others, goal of improving the quality in life in Duncanville, and love for his family. Truly a pillar in the community, he was memorialized by the City of Duncanville by renaming the two block street which pass alongside Ben Franklin to "Wes Jespersen Way, formerly Orange Street. We always like to say, "Wes knew the way!"
While the era of five-and-dime variety stores came & went long ago as the age of superstore took over, Ben Franklin Apothecary has continued to adapt & flourish for 50 years. Today, the general store houses a full selection of unique gifts, a book nook, a quilting and sewing center, a nostalgic candy counter with treats for all, and many are delighted with the original dime store feel. "We're truly a hometown store that prides itself of creating one-on-one relationships with our customers and helping folks take a trip back to the good ole' days of the five-and-dime store era," states store manager Kasey Cheshier. Of course, the business has evolved and changed over the past fifty years, but our roots are always engrained on serving others and pursuing excellence in everything we do. Our founder, Wes set the foundation of old-fashioned service with a strong work ethic. Ben Franklin is a store where you could find just about everything, and if we didn't carry the particular item you were looking for... we'll try to order it for you!
The family heritage even continues today as Dan's daughter, Joy (Jespersen) Cheshier, is one of the main buyers of the store and his son-in-law, Kasey, is the Store Manager/Director of Operations. Ann Jespersen (the original owner) still works at times in the quilt shop and makes her usual appearance visiting with folks in the deli during lunch time. At any time, customers could easily see three generations of family members serving customers at Ben Franklin Apothecary and continuing the tradition of serving communities of the Best Southwest continues. In the hustle and bustle of the world today, we strive to create a unique atmosphere that remind folks of the yesteryear.
In 2014, Ben Franklin Apothecary celebrated their 50th anniversary of serving the Best Southwest region of Dallas. Rep. Yvonne Davis (District 111) in conjunction with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) recognized Ben Franklin Apothecary as a Texas Treasure Business Award winner on Sunday, October 19, 2014 at the D.L. Hopkins Senior Center in Duncanville. According to Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of THC, “No other statewide award honors the for-profit business men and women of Texas for helping to make this state a leader in economic development and job creation, while simultaneously acknowledging that accomplishments such as this make history.” Representative Yvonne Davis added, "Ben Franklin has been and continues to be an integral part of the character and fabric which has sustained the City of Duncanville and its citizens. We are all proud of the contributions to our community that Ben Franklin has made and continues to offer to the region. Ben Franklin is not just a Duncanville treasure, you're now a Texas Treasure!"
WASHINGTON, D.C.— In February of 2015, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that Ben Franklin Apothecary of Duncanville, Texas, was named a Top 100 Small Business in America and a winner in its annual Blue Ribbon Small Business Awards®, a program that recognizes companies for their success and innovation and for their contributions to economic growth and free enterprise. Ben Franklin Apothecary was selected from a record number of applicants from communities across the nation for demonstrating exceptional business practices in areas including strategic planning, employee development, community involvement, and customer service. “While our economy still struggles to reach its full potential, small businesses like Ben Franklin Apothecary and our other Blue Ribbon Award winners have continued to act as examples of the resilience, ingenuity, and opportunity at work in the free enterprise system,” U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said. “Times can be tough, but these businesses have proven that they can be too. And by taking risks, watching out for their employees, and giving back to their communities, they’ve shown that success is achievable.”
In late 2015, Ben Franklin Apothecary was presented with the "Family Values Award" by the Institute for Family Business at Baylor University. The award is given to successful family business that have shown the greatest commitment to family values by nurturing healthy relationships and stability over successive generations. The awards program – now in its 26th year – recognizes outstanding family firms who demonstrate a commitment to serve their community, industry and employees.
Ben Franklin Apothecary is a family-owned and operated business with personal care and items you do not find just everywhere. We stand committed to serving in a manner to honor our patrons in hopes to acquire long-term friends and customers. We want to build a special relationship with each customer we get to serve.
At Ben Franklin Apothecary, we desire to “Let our light so shine before others that they will see our Good Deeds and glorify God.”