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ONDBEAT: Carolina Crud Crusher goes national

When illness goes around, the Crud Man comes to town.

That’s the persona Shallotte pharmacist Brad Carter created this year promoting Carolina Crud Crusher, the cough syrup he developed years ago to fight and fend off the symptoms of cold season.

The debut of Crud Man coincides with the medicine going national this year, with two major wholesalers carrying it and servicing more than 4,000 pharmacies nationwide.

Carolina Crud Crusher can now be purchased at all these brick-and-mortar drugstores and not just online, the Thomas Drugs pharmacist said.

Decked out in one of his distinctive shirts with matching red shorts and a hat, Carter aka Crud Man has been promoting Carolina Crud Crusher at local events including festivals and fairs, art shows, expos and road races.

Two weeks ago, Crud Man and his family attended the Carolina Renaissance Festival in Charlotte promoting Carolina Crud Crusher.

“I wear the Carolina Crud Crusher hat, and I’ve got a shirt that says ‘Got the Crud?’ with a question mark and Carolina Crud Crusher on the back,” he said.

It’s a true attention-getter, with event-goers approaching to find out what the bearded Crud Man is all about. Carter then hands them a business card and tells them where they can find or order Carolina Crud Crusher, including on its website at carolinacrudcrusher.com.

“I’m just this mountain man because I’m originally from Pipestem, W.Va.,” Carter said, describing his Crud Man alter ego. “He has a beard from the woods, like the old man of the mountain meets Forrest Gump kind of deal. It’s a good attention-getter.”

New national wholesalers of the self-touted “tasty” red syrup, in both regular and sugar-free formulas for $8.99 a bottle, include Mutual Drug of Durham and Smith Drug Co. of Spartanburg, S.C.

“We have (dealers in) over 37 states who order it now and online,” said Carter, who started developing his cough syrup years ago while in pharmacy school. “It’s gone really big.”

He said other pharmacists have been calling him as well because the medicine brings new traffic into their stores.

“It’s a way to bring in more business for them,” he said.

 So what makes the “crusher” special?

“It has a lot of the same ingredients as everything else out there,” Carter said. “It’s no different than buying an apple pie at a grocery store or getting one from your grandma and one tastes better. It’s knowing how to put it together. It’s a lot like cooking. It’s about knowing which (ingredient) to put in first, what to do before you add the others, how long to let something sit before you do something else to it.”

It’s knowing the secrets of the trade for the alcohol-free syrup, he said.

With support and help from fellow pharmacist and pharmacy owner Ed Thomas, Carter saw his “invention” go from prescription-only to over-the-counter.

“We started off in-house,” Carter said. “We were small. We knew how we wanted to do it and we were able to find a company to do it the way we wanted to do it and it makes a big difference.”

He gets at least one or two phone calls a day from customers who swear Carolina Crud Crusher works better for them than one of the bigger national brands of cough and cold remedies.

Word-of-mouth and a down-home personal touch have been his main mode of advertising the product in the Carolinas. Carter also prefers to visit a town or city at a time by attending assorted events as Crud Man.

“I’m accessible as a pharmacist,” he said. “You can come in and talk to me about it. I really just wanted to make that connection stronger and better and instead of getting millions of people in mass media. I figured I’d work within my limits.”

Bottles of Carolina Crud Crusher are now selling in the tens of thousands and growing, including at Thomas and Seashore drugstores in Brunswick County and Little River, S.C., in addition to other hometown pharmacies in Wilmington, Hampstead, Monkey Junction and Carolina and Wrightsville beaches and Pawleys Island, S.C., among others.

So far, Carolina Crud Crusher is Carter’s biggest pharmaceutical invention, but there may be more in the works. He said he’s always got ideas for new products and carries lot of notes.

“I’ve got a ton of things,” he said, adding he can’t reveal them just yet.

 

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.