- The history of drugstores in the US is filled with stories of acquisitions, mergers, and rebranding pushes.
- Major pharmacy companies like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens established themselves by buying up rivals.
- Check out these now-defunct drugstores that are no longer in business.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The drugstore business is cannibalistic, to say the least.
Retail history has seen plenty of regional and national chains rise up and expand, only to be devoured by a more successful or larger competitor.
In most cases, the dominant drugstore went on to retire its acquisition’s brands in the initial years following the merger.
Here’s a list of drugstores that have been lost to history:
Adams Drug Company first opened in 1932 in Rhode Island. Supermarket chain Pantry Pride bought the company in 1984, and the brand disappeared a few years later.
George Omar Guy founded the G.O. Guy chain of drugstores in 1888. Pay n’ Save bought the business in 1987.
Founded in Queens in 1924, Genovese Drug Stores were a mainstay in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut at their peak. But when JCPenney bought up the chain in 1998, the remaining Genovese stores ultimately rebranded as Eckerd pharmacies.
In 1962, Happy Harry’s opened up in Wilmington, Delaware. Over the decades, the chain expanded into New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The drugstore acquired its name due to the friendly demeanour of its founder, Harry Levin.
Defunct grocer Bruno’s launched a drugstore spinoff known as Big B Drugs in 1968 in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1982, Big B became an independent company. In 1996, Revco purchased Big B. CVS then acquired Revco and rebranded the remaining Big B stores as CVS pharmacies.
Founded in 1905, Peoples Drug built up a network of location in Washington, DC; Virginia; and Maryland; and it even spread up and down the East Coast. CVS bought Peoples in 1990 and erased the brand four years later. The name still lives on in an Alexandria, Virginia, restaurant dubbed People’s Drug in tribute to the defunct pharmacy.
Grey Drug came onto the scene in 1912 in Ohio, and it later spread to Florida and Maryland. Rite Aid bought up the multi-state chain in 1987.
Brooks Pharmacy was once a common sight in New York and New England. The chain launched in 1932. After a series of mergers and acquisitions in the early 2000s, Brooks began to falter. An ill-fated merger with rival Eckerd left the combined chain weakened. In 2006, Rite Aid bought the company and retired the Brooks name.
Founded in 1956, Twinsburg, Ohio-based Revco grew to the point that its stock was traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The company went bankrupt in 1988 but was able to turn things around. Revco held on for another decade, and was ultimately purchased by CVS in 1997.
Katz and Besthoff — known as K&B — first opened its doors in New Orleans in 1905. The brand became so ubiquitous in the Gulf Coast states that “K&B purple” remains a popular term for a particular shade of purple in Louisiana. Rite Aid bought the chain in 1997.
John A. Hook established his namesake Hook’s Drug Stores in 1900 in Indianapolis. Kurt Vonnegut’s father, an architect, helped to design a number of the stores. The company was acquired by CVS in 1997.
Founded in 1898, Eckerd was a major national drugstore chain in the US for decades. The company merged with JCPenney in 1997, but JCPenney jettisoned the partnership and sold the stores in 2004. From there, Eckerd merged with Brooks Pharmacy, but Rite Aid ended up purchasing its stores in 2006. The following year, the Eckerd brand disappeared from stores.
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