By Raiza Giorgi

Steve and Joan Reden will miss seeing their customers on a regular basis, but they are ready to start their next chapter of retirement and spending a lot of time with their family.

The longtime Santa Ynez Valley residents are closing their shop, Star Drugs, at the end of April. The closing of Star Drug also ends an era as they happened to be the last family-operated pharmacy in the area. They sent a loving letter to the community, which they posted on social media and have been handing out to their customers, thanking them for many years of patronage. 

“I am hoping to get back to walking and hiking and being with our grandchildren more and traveling once this virus is over,” Steve Reden said. 

Steve Reden has been a pharmacist for 50 years.
Photo by Raiza Giorgi

Aside from being a pharmacy, Star Drug also offered FedEx and UPS shipping as well as copy and fax services. All their clients’ information will be transferred to the new CVS location next to New Frontiers in Solvang. Their employees have all been offered positions there as well, Reden said. 

Reden has been a pharmacist for more than 50 years. After taking an occupational counseling service at his high school, he found an interest in pharmaceutical medicine. He started his career in Beverly Hills and worked his way up the coast. Reden worked mostly as a relief pharmacist, working at other drug stores when someone was out on leave or needed a break. 

“It was fun being an independent pharmacist as I could go to other areas and take time off when I wanted,” he said. “When an owner or pharmacist needed to take time off, they would call me.” 

In the 1980s the Redens briefly owned Plaza Drug in La Cumbre Plaza in Santa Barbara for about six years and then he happened to do a relief job for Les Petersen, who had a small shop next to Harrison’s Hardware in Santa Ynez, and knew he wanted to live in the valley. 

“Les then built the building where Bella Mia salon is now and we came to the valley in 1987,” Reden said. “I worked part-time jobs for Les and then went to work for Leon Roeser, where Rite-Aid in Solvang is now.”

When Rite-Aid took over in the late 1990s he stayed for a while and then went to a store in Santa Maria for a year. 

“We opened Star Drug in January of 2000 and this has been such an amazing journey the last 20 years. We loved every minute of it,” Joan Reden said. 

The two are also active in the community from Steve’s involvement for the Artist Advocacy Foundation through Tales of the Tavern and the Rona Barrett Foundation. 

“I am so proud to have worked on the Golden Inn and Villages project with Rona and get this built for the community,” he said.

Joan Reden has been a longtime board member of the Santa Ynez Chamber, and loves helping organize the SYV Pickleball league. 

Star Drug will be closing April 24, and the Redens are hoping to see some of their longtime customers before they close; however due to the COVID-19, they understand if people are hesitant to come in, and they will still see people in the community.