Walgreen Agency?

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TW-Upstate NY
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Walgreen Agency?

Post by TW-Upstate NY » 14 Nov 2020 14:36

While looking through an online newspaper archive, I came across an ad in the local paper from 1970 for a local drug store with two locations that were referred to as "Walgreen Agency" stores. I'd never heard of this previously. Was this some kind of an alliance like Rexall was back in the day? I did some digging and all I found was that Walgreen's ended the program in 1980 but no info. whatsoever on what this actually was. Anybody have more info. on this?
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Groceteria
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Re: Walgreen Agency?

Post by Groceteria » 14 Nov 2020 18:49

I think it was kind of a franchising/licensing thing like Rexall. There was a (long-closed) store bearing a Walgreen Agency sign in downtown Gastonia NC until a few years back. I may be able find a picture, given some time.

BillyGr
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Re: Walgreen Agency?

Post by BillyGr » 14 Nov 2020 19:10

Started in 1929, and the Walgreens company would offer stores in smaller areas that they wouldn't put their own store in deals on many Walgreens branded items.

Helped them sell more of their items (which would help them get a better price for a higher volume) and also helped the smaller town stores get better deals. They also found it helpful to identify talent for future Walgreens stores and to spread their name to areas they would later open stores.

Looks like they had around 1,900 affiliates in the 1960's, before discontinuing the program in the later 1970's (around the same time they started to expand their own stores to more areas).

(Thanks to America's Corner Store for some of the details).

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Re: Walgreen Agency?

Post by BillyGr » 14 Nov 2020 19:13

TW-Upstate NY wrote: 14 Nov 2020 14:36 While looking through an online newspaper archive, I came across an ad in the local paper from 1970 for a local drug store with two locations that were referred to as "Walgreen Agency" stores. I'd never heard of this previously. Was this some kind of an alliance like Rexall was back in the day? I did some digging and all I found was that Walgreen's ended the program in 1980 but no info. whatsoever on what this actually was. Anybody have more info. on this?
Also makes sense as they actually had a store in downtown Albany years ago, which closed many years prior to their "re-entry" to the area and now having one on Pearl Street again from the Rite Aid acquisitions.

(Being as how those agency stores are Johnstown/Gloversville, which aren't that far from the Albany area - may very well have been others).

rich
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Re: Walgreen Agency?

Post by rich » 15 Nov 2020 09:10

They weren't only in small towns. They also were in large markets where Walgreen's didn't have locations. There was one at Eastgate shopping center outside of Cleveland in what might have been originally a chain drug store and I've seen old ads for them in other sizable places.

During the mid 20th century, Walgreen's had a large footprint that included places like NYC, but pared it back in the 60s or 70s. The agency model (also used by fellow Chicago chain, Jewel, as well as Red Owl) may have been one way to keep-up their house brand supply chain and they may have encouraged locations outside of small towns.

It looks like they ended the program around the time that Rexall evaporated. Rexall actually began by way of franchising local chains (Marshall Drug in Cleveland, later part of Cunningham's was one of these) on a geographic basis and added independents through a fee based model after WWII. The head of Rexall in those years was married to the daughter of the founder of Walgreen's, so he may have gotten the indie-based model from them.

TW-Upstate NY
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Re: Walgreen Agency?

Post by TW-Upstate NY » 15 Nov 2020 13:34

Thanks for the responses everybody. I honestly had never heard of the concept until I happened to see that old ad from the local paper. I did a little more digging and found that these two locations were Walgreen Agency stores from at least 1965. In 1971 the family that ran them sold them to a company called Clinton Merchandising from Rochester. Eventually, they became CVS and both stayed open well into the 2000's. The Johnstown store was a downtown location that actually was closed on Sundays. The Gloversville store still survives as a CVS but is now a freestanding unit less than a mile from its original Arterial Plaza location which itself was a replacement in the mid '80's from its original spot in the plaza when it opened in 1965. Maybe they joined up with Walgreen Agency when they added the second store because of the few ads I found pre-65 for just the Johnstown location, no mention was ever made of it. As an aside, Walgreen's now operates stores in both cities as well with Gloversville being a ground up new build and Johnstown being one of the units they got from Rite-Aid.

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Re: Walgreen Agency?

Post by Super S » 11 Dec 2020 11:59

I have seen a few older pictures of west coast cities with Walgreens signs in them, these must have been the agency stores. Walgreens wasn't common here until about the mid-late 1990s.

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Re: Walgreen Agency?

Post by Groceteria » 11 Dec 2020 19:13

Super S wrote: 11 Dec 2020 11:59 I have seen a few older pictures of west coast cities with Walgreens signs in them, these must have been the agency stores. Walgreens wasn't common here until about the mid-late 1990s.
Not to say that there weren't "agency" stores on the west coast (there probably were)but Walgreens actually had "regular" stores in San Francisco in the 1940s and a pretty big presence in Northern California at least by the 1960s. They had 5 stores in SF in 1962 and 11 by 1978. By the time I moved there in 1992, they were already the dominant chain by far, and they had been for some time. They had numerous stores in the Central Valley long before the 1990s as well.

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Re: Walgreen Agency?

Post by pseudo3d » 16 Dec 2020 01:37

Groceteria wrote: 11 Dec 2020 19:13
Super S wrote: 11 Dec 2020 11:59 I have seen a few older pictures of west coast cities with Walgreens signs in them, these must have been the agency stores. Walgreens wasn't common here until about the mid-late 1990s.
Not to say that there weren't "agency" stores on the west coast (there probably were)but Walgreens actually had "regular" stores in San Francisco in the 1940s and a pretty big presence in Northern California at least by the 1960s. They had 5 stores in SF in 1962 and 11 by 1978. By the time I moved there in 1992, they were already the dominant chain by far, and they had been for some time. They had numerous stores in the Central Valley long before the 1990s as well.
They definitely did some weird disappearing/reappearing acts for a while, I know they got into my town with a single store in the mall (which opened in 1982, a little late for a drug store along with it), which closed less than a decade later, and then went dormant for another 10 or so years until they started building new stand-alone drug stores. The Houston locations I believe were bought from Sav-on Drugs at some point in the 1980s, and never left the area since.

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