Community gathers at Sterling to celebrate 60 years of business

Leonard Astrup, founder of Sterling Drug in Austin, stands with longtime employee Sharon Wagner, who started with the business from the beginning and worked until 1994. — Matt Peterson/matt.peterson@austindailyherald.com

Sterling Drug in Austin, a bustling place on Monday afternoon, showed again why it is the small business that has stood the test of time.

People gathered at Sterling to honor Leonard Astrup — who started the business on Dec. 17, 1952 — along with some of his longtime employees.

“This is a very proud time for our family”, said Leonard’s son, Chris Astrup. “We’ve been fortunate to work with an outstanding group of people over the years, that we’ve always felt are second to none. We’ve also been blessed with many loyal customers.”

Leonard, warmly known as Len, grew his business over the years with the addition of the pharmacies in Austin, Albert Lea, Fairmont, and Owatonna. In 1980, Walgreens eliminated its franchise division altogether and alerted Leonard with a letter. Because most of his inventory was supplied through the Walgreens franchise, it required fast thinking to keep things running. In response, Len opened his own warehouse and expanded his hardware, grocery, cosmetic and general merchandise departments. Gifts, toys and seasonal products came later.

Sterling began a second generation of owners when Len’s twin sons, Dan and Chris, became pharmacists. In 1987, they became second-generation owners of Astrup Drug, Inc. and, along with Len, are the owner/operators of the organization today.

But just as much praise went to longtime employees like John Skaar, Lois King, and especially Sharon Wagner. Wagner started with the business in 1952 and worked to 1994. And she still has a soft spot in her heart for the business.

“I think it’s remarkable,” she said about the business’ solid hold in Austin. “To have a family-owned business for 60 years is really something.”

Leonard joked about how some former employees saw Wagner as the leader, and not him.

Employees and old friends reminisced Monday about the store’s history while enjoying cake and special promotions and mystery treasures throughout the store.

Mower County

2024 Summer SURE Internship begins at The Hormel Institute

Mower County

Major archaeological survey is underway in Mower County

Education

Photos: Back to where it began. AHS seniors walk through Woodson Kindergarten

Agriculture

Farmers must kill 4.2 million chickens after bird flu hits Iowa egg farm

News

Jury deliberations begin in Donald Trump’s hush money criminal case

Mower County

Commissioners approve resolution using federal funds to replace county bridges

Mower County

Evolve wraps up successful season

Mower County

Young Eagles Flight Rally scheduled for June 8

Mower County

Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service offers paid training program

Mower County

Fourth Grade Junior Fire State Poster Contest winners named

News

Two correctional officers sustain minor injuries after assault by two inmates at Minnesota prison

Education

In Your Community: Masons give out scholarships

News

Israeli strikes kill at least 37 Palestinians, most in tents, near Gaza’s Rafah as offensive expands

News

Trump prosecutor focuses on ‘cover-up’ in closing arguments while defense attacks key witness

Blooming Prairie

Two from Austin injured in Friday crash near Blooming Prairie

News

Minnesota lawmakers assert protections for public waters

Mower County

I-90 eastbound 4th, 6th Street ramps in Austin close May 31, Cedar River closes June 3

Mower County

Photos: Those who gave all honored on Memorial Day

Mower County

Honor those who served this Memorial Day

Education

‘Light the world on fire:’ Pacelli graduates the Class of 2024

Education

Signing ceremony a first step for students hoping to get into education

Education

Hook, line, and sinker – Lyle students made the best catch

Mower County

Austin Stormwater Resilience Plan – Open House slated for Tuesday

Mower County

Mueller awarded fellowship to attend leadership institute