Phar-Mor

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danielh_512
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Post by danielh_512 » 16 Jan 2006 04:07

Phar-Mor. The Youngstown, OH based drug superstore chain that folded a few years back? In California? They never got out of the Midwest, that I'm aware of. Interesting store we should talk about sometime in the non-grocery section, I know a good bit about them...they were big in a lot of this area.

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Groceteria
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Post by Groceteria » 16 Jan 2006 10:46

danielh_512 wrote:Phar-Mor. The Youngstown, OH based drug superstore chain that folded a few years back? In California? They never got out of the Midwest, that I'm aware of. Interesting store we should talk about sometime in the non-grocery section, I know a good bit about them...they were big in a lot of this area.

They briefly had a store in Sacramento too. I think they may have just been entering California when the meltdown started. They also had numerous stores in the Carolinas which did well for several years.

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Post by danielh_512 » 17 Jan 2006 03:18

I remember when I lived in Hickory, how they came to town. I remember a few Charlotte stores, as well as one in Asheville. They retreated to their OH/PA/WV base, then started buying former Pharmhouse and Drug Emporium locations, and started growing even more, before they went bankrupt again and closed up for good. Mismanagement got Phar-Mor, the prices and selection were far better than any small drug store. The CEO had Mob ties too.

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Post by storewanderer » 17 Jan 2006 05:43

Phar Mor operated in Reno, NV until about 1993. They moved into a former Pak N Save which had opened around 1987 and was gone by 1989. I think we had Phar Mor for about 3 years.

I don't know if any of them actually ever opened in California, but I know some were very very close when the chain started closing stores. The Reno Store was actually one of the first to close. I recall them stating in a press release that Reno was closed not due to poor performance, but due to it being at the end of the line as far as distribution goes. It is also possible that whatever they closed in California was closed prior to the Reno closure.

In Colorado in 2002 I had the pleasure to visit two Phar Mor Stores that were still operating, one in Lakewood and one in Westminster. To say the stores were a shadow of the store I remember in Reno, is putting it very lightly. While the store layouts were similar, there was way more food, way fewer special buys (or did they call them a Power Buy?), and overall just a lot less stuff that I was interested in buying. Video rentals were gone. The number of customers in both stores was close to zero (I visited mid-day on two different weekdays). The entire visit was very depressing, to say the least, with how I had remembered Phar Mor.

I also know they had at least two or three stores in Las Vegas, and also at least one in Utah. I don't think they ever made it into Oregon or Washington.

Ironically, Phar Mor and Thrifty left Reno at the exact same time. Thrifty leaving also meant the closure of a distribution center.

parkave231

Post by parkave231 » 17 Jan 2006 21:28

We used to go there all the time. They had one up at one of the strips near the mall which used to be a Lechmere (how's that for dragging up dead retail chains?), and there was another closer that was built with the rest of the center.

Amazingly enough, when I was in Greenville, SC (1998-2004), you could drive down Haywood Road and still see Phar-Mor on the shopping center's marquis. If I recall correctly, the sign was removed when the space was renovated to become a Rhodes Furniture (oops). But maybe someone can back me up on that. It always seemed very odd to see that sign when the entire chain had folded years ago. (Then again, there's still a Ward's sign, lit up and everything, at Charlestowne Square in Charleston, SC, even though the mall has been 75% razed. But I digress....as usual.)

And being an accountant, one of the poster children for scandalous accounting -- well, pre-Enron, at least -- was Phar-Mor. One of my professors was from Youngstown, and it was always hard to believe the stories of the shady characters there.

Matt

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Post by tesg » 17 Jan 2006 23:23

storewanderer wrote:I also know they had at least two or three stores in Las Vegas, and also at least one in Utah.
Ogden, Utah, specifically. For about six months in 2002. I happened upon the "Store Closing" sale completely by accident and wondered why I didn't even remember the store being there the last time I was in town.

Phar-Mor was an anchor at Newgate Mall, a young but floundering mall that had troubles at the time competing with the highly successful Ogden City Mall downtown, and Layton Hills Mall to the south in Layton. Newgate ultimately found its footing largely thanks to landing Dillards. Newgate is now fully occupied with major tenants. Ogden City Mall died completely and was demolished a few years ago.

I had a Phar-Mor local to me in Iowa for years. It was always a fun place to browse. For some reason, I think of Phar-Mor as the place to buy Andes Mint candy. They carried Andes flavors you never saw anywhere else, and they easily had the cheapest prices.

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Post by terryinokc » 18 Jan 2006 01:24

There was a Phar Mor here in Oklahoma City for several years, It went in remodeled space from a former IGA and TG&Y Family Center. In fact, just the other day, I ran across my old Phar Mor check cashing card. And yes, their specials were called Power Buys.

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Post by danielh_512 » 18 Jan 2006 04:18

In the Pittsburgh area, they were as popular as small drug stores, and are the main reason few chains were in the area until recently. Only Eckerd (which is the former Thrift in disguise) and some Rite Aid stores inherited from Gray Drug were it. Since Phar-Mor's closure, CVS has entered the immediate Pittsburgh area and Walgreens did in 2005.

The accounting scandal hit in 1993, and that's when they pulled out of the South. I remember being very sad about the stores in Charlotte, Asheville and Knoxville closing. They were alive and well near me though, as I had moved to Western Maryland. In the late 90's, they started expanding again, but started tinkering w/their format. They were the first w/drive-thru pharmacies here in their new stores, they started opening stores w/separate food sections in a similar layout to a Wal-Mart Supercenter, and almost with the selection interestingly. A store in a former Hills in Johnstown, PA is one I think of most with that layout. They changed their colors, and started shrinking their store. One Phar-Mor in Morgantown, WV was shrunk to less than half its previous size, the rest of the space being taken by OfficeMax. They went from their orange to yellow text w/a red background. They ditched Power Buys, and started raising prices, which was their big advantage over the smaller drug stores.

When they expanded, Pharmhouse, F&M and Drug Emporium were similar chains scattered around w/locations in the Mid-Atlantic, and Phar-Mor bought some of these locations, mainly Pharmhouse, but I know F&M and Drug Emporium were bought in the Midwest and other states. In 2002, they started closing more stores, and got down to just Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia as their operating states. In 2003, they were long gone.

It seems interesting that in an era where discount stores start selling food widespread, supermarkets integrate more pharmacy merchandise and general merchandise than ever before, and every other store gets bigger, the drug store actually gets smaller. I wonder if a trend like this in other sectors will happen someday. Phar-Mor's own mismanagement cost them, but there is no such living example of the drug superstore.

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Post by Dave » 18 Jan 2006 08:37

I remeber going to the PharMor in the Harbison area of Columbia, SC back in the mid-'90's and it seemed to me that the one near me in Richmond was open for a good while after that, but without any advertising that I noticed - I rmember driving by and being surprised it was still open because I hadn't "heard from them" in a while.

One of my former next door neighbors was in sales for the Coca-Cola bottler out of Baltimore. Although he lived in Richmond, his territory began up around Winchester, VA and spread through western Maryland, soouthwestern Pennsylvania and into West Virginia, curving around and stopping around Fairmont. The area south of Fairmont was served out of Charleston.

Anyway, he complained that the PharMor in Bridgeport/Clarksburg, WV was killing his business in Fairmont, which is around 15 miles or so to the north. They were selling Coke products at less than he could wholesale them to his customers, so the mom and pop service stations and c-stores would buy their drinks at PharMor rather than from him.

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Post by danielh_512 » 19 Jan 2006 01:35

That Phar-Mor in Bridgeport, WV is now a Dick's Sporting Goods. Their prices were very very low at one time with Power Buys. I remember them being executed similarly to Blue Light Specials, you came in and they would announce Power Buys.

As for Coke, everything south of Fairmont is supplied by Coca-Cola Bottling Consolidated of Charlotte, product coming from their Roanoke, VA facility.

I remember one being surprisingly open in Richmond as late as 1998. It was along Broad St., in a shopping center w/an Ukrop's I believe.

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Post by todd » 19 Jan 2006 07:28

That's right about Phar-Mor on Haywood in Greenville ....it is now a furniture store ....lots of those sitting empty too, like the Grand store on Laurens Road. Never really did Phar Mor much but it was all the rage there for a while. Some places seem to really go like crazy until the novelty wears off.

verywell

Post by verywell » 01 Feb 2006 00:43

We used to frequent the Phar Mor often in Matthews, NC.

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Daniel
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Post by Daniel » 01 Feb 2006 06:24

Phar-Mor built a store in Fresno, Ca, but it never opened. It eventually became a "Super Vons" which is now closed. That building is now a low-end furniture store.

bccdmd

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Post by bccdmd » 25 Mar 2006 21:43

I moved to Atlanta(Marietta)Georgia in Sept 1991. Found a Pharmor store on Hwy 41. Loved that place, great prices, especially on video rentals. I could rent movies for $ .76 each(or maybe it was $ .67) and the third one was FREE. It closed sometime later(probably '93)and a friend told me something about the upper management ruining the company with some kind of financial hijinks. I hated to see them go.

Blair Bradford

Post by Blair Bradford » 26 Mar 2006 08:49

There were some PharMor's in the Atlanta area when I moved here in the early 90's. But, like so many other retailers, they pulled up and left at some point. Happens all the time down here...Mervyn's, Lechmere, Upton's, Cub Foods...

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