Eckerd Drugs - Life in America

26 Jan 2022

-- Eckerd was founded in Erie Pennsylvania in 1898 by J Milton Eckerd and was the oldest chain drug store in the United States Eckerd became one of the pioneers of the discount drugstore industry Eckerd began working as an assistant to a drug wholesaler as a young man His employer believed that a cut-rate drugstore could prove to be a profitable venture by buying supplies in bulk from wholesalers at discounted rates They could then offer lower prices than other drugstores He encouraged Eckerd to pursue the venture which he did and opened the Erie Cut-Rate Medicine Store By 1912 he sold the store to his sons and moved to Delaware and opened another new store there Among the innovations introduced by Eckerd was the addition of a store manager to handle the overall operations of the store This freed pharmacists to concentrate solely on prescription services whereas before they had to manage the store as well This practice was soon adopted by most of their competitors Their largest revenue came in from the sale of prescriptions and over the counter medications but it was also a one-stop shop for its customers The stores also sold general merchandise including health and beauty items ready-to-eat food and beverages and greeting cards Jack Eckerd the second generation owner was responsible for the chain s rapid expansion south Stores began popping up in North Carolina and Florida and he eventually took the company public in 1961 During the late 1970s photofinishing services were offered at most locations with one-hour development of photos The company also launched what it called the Eckerd Tackle Center in every store--a full display of fishing tackle from top to bottom In 1986 Jack Eckerd sold his shares in the company The chain had grown to 1 500 stores under his leadership In 1996 J C Penney and Eckerd agreed to merge under the agreement that all of JCPenney's Rite Aid stores were rebranded to the larger Eckerd name Eckerd remained with JCPenney from 1997 to 2004 and was one of the largest drugstore chains in the U S with over 2 800 stores stretching across the country In 2004 after losing a great deal of money JC Penney's sold Eckerds The east coast locations eventually became Rite-Aids and the rest became CVS Pharmacies In 2006 the 109-year old company completely disappeared ending its run as one of the biggest drug store chains ever

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