Early Walgreens stores in Michigan

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TenPoundHammer
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Early Walgreens stores in Michigan

Post by TenPoundHammer » 27 Nov 2009 15:22

Considering how close we are to Illinois, I'm surprised at how few Walgreens stores existed in Michigan before the chain's explosive late-90s growth. So far, these are the only "old school" Walgreens stores I've found in Michigan:

*downtown Muskegon. This probably opened in the 1950s or 1960s downtown and was later incorporated into the Muskegon Mall. It probably closed well before the mall was torn down in 2001.

*Benton Harbor. Opened with the Orchards Mall in 1979. Was long-closed when I went to this mall in 2003; is now part of a Jo-Ann superstore.

*Holland. Opened in 1988 with the Westshore Mall. I think it may now be a restaurant.

I think that Battle Creek and Kalamazoo also had Walgreens stores in their respective downtown pedestrian malls.

What sort of visual cues would I be looking for that indicate a former Walgreens? I know that their mall-based stores used diagonal wood slats not unlike a Regis hair salon.

justin karimzad
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Re: Early Walgreens stores in Michigan

Post by justin karimzad » 28 Nov 2009 00:46

Here's a Walgreen's pool on Flickr;
http://www.flickr.com/groups/walgreens/pool/
This store in Kenosha, WI is typical of the 1950s and '60s Walgreens: neon sign, pendant fluorescent fixtures and a cone-shaped spotlight in the interior, and square recessed incandescent fixtures over the entrance;
http://www.flickr.com/photos/katherineo ... 127680349/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/katherineo ... 127680345/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/puroticori ... 9/sizes/o/
They often had terrazzo tiling in the exterior, like this 1970 Walgreen's at 1524 Polk st. in San Francisco;
http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk ... 9/sizes/o/
Last edited by justin karimzad on 24 Dec 2009 03:53, edited 1 time in total.

krogerclerk
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Re: Early Walgreens stores in Michigan

Post by krogerclerk » 28 Nov 2009 17:49

I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan was an area that Walgreens retrenched from during the late 60's and early 70's. Much of the Deep South experienced a retrenchment by Walgreens during this era, leaving Walgreens in Florida and the Gulf Coast westward to Texas and up the Mississippi Valley to the Upper South(TN/KY) still having Walgreens while the area in between didn't see Walgreens return until its big expansion beginning in the late 90's. Walgreens had experienced considerable growth from World War I through the Great Depression, being slowed by World War II building material shortages, and unlike the emerging regional drugstores, many of which adopted the discount drug format, was still operating out of downtown business district storefronts and often lagged being in the newer shopping centers and malls beyond its core markets which included Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans.

Michigan was an early market for the expansion of Revco and had its own local chains Arbor(which like Revco would be acquired by CVS), Perry Drugs(now Rite Aid), Sentry Drugs which I believe was acquired by Arbor at some point, and a limited number of SupeRx Drugs ususally paired with Kroger, which also became part of CVS via Revco. Most of the chains were more or less a version of the discount drugstore format that focused on prescriptions, HBC and personal care items and from the late 70's, photo finishing, and did not have soda/lunch counters and other staples of the old downtown drug stores for which Walgreens was famous.

rich
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Re: Early Walgreens stores in Michigan

Post by rich » 28 Nov 2009 20:43

My guess is that Walgreen's may have followed other Chicago retailers like Jewel and National Tea into Michigan. The latter had a base in Kalamazoo and stores along the Lake Michigan coast to Muskegon, as well as stores in Grand Rapids and places like Niles. National also had a rather small Detroit base that went at least as far as Battle Creek, although this was closed in the mid-60s.

Walgreen built stores with Jewel for a time, until sometime after the Jewel purchase of Osco, so they may have followed Jewel's pattern of growth, although you also could find Walgreen's in plazas anchored by National. Walgreen had a fairly extensive network of "agency" stores, which where similar to Rexall franchises. These were all over the place--there was one near me in the Cleveland suburbs and no where near an actual Walgreen's. That store became something else in the early 70s. That was probably when Walgreen eliminated the agency stores. By then, Rexalls weren't that common either. Quite a few chains were Rexall affiliates in the 50s and 60s including Gray Drug and Marshall's/Cunningham's. As krogerclerk suggested, Walgreen had expanded into an odd collection of places and had stores in New York City for a time, although these were gone by the late 70s. Walgreen still has some obvious downtown flagships like the store on N. Michigan near Water Tower Place in Chicago and that more or less marks the beginning of downtown and the end of the French Quarter in New Orleans, but they had many suburban locations in the 50s and 60s, e.g., the mid-50s Edens Plaza store in Wilmette, Il that relocated to a nearby freestanding location. In the mid-70s, they took over quite a few smaller National Tea stores in Chicago area, particularly in viable urban neighborhoods.

TenPoundHammer
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Re: Early Walgreens stores in Michigan

Post by TenPoundHammer » 09 Jan 2012 04:04

A little more searching shows that Walgreens also had mall based stores in Flint in at least Eastland (now Courtland) and Dort Mall. By the late 70s, these were both Perry. Genesee Valley also had a Perry for a while, so I wonder if it was a Walgreens too.

robdude
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Re: Early Walgreens stores in Michigan

Post by robdude » 23 Jan 2012 00:29

TenPoundHammer wrote:A little more searching shows that Walgreens also had mall based stores in Flint in at least Eastland (now Courtland) and Dort Mall. By the late 70s, these were both Perry. Genesee Valley also had a Perry for a while, so I wonder if it was a Walgreens too.
I remember Lakeside in Sterling Heights and possibly Briarwood in Ann Arbor having Perry (no) Drugs. The Lakeside one was lower level, next to Sears. It later became CVS/(no) Pharmacy. I seem to remember Briarwood having one and possibly Eastland (Harper Woods) and possibly Northland. I have no memory at all of these ever having been Walgreen's. The first Walgreen's I ever saw in SE MI opened in the mid-late 90s...one of these was in Fraser.

TenPoundHammer
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Re: Early Walgreens stores in Michigan

Post by TenPoundHammer » 28 Jan 2012 21:46

The Dort and Eastland stores were big enough to have pharmacies. I know Dort did because it closed in the mid-90s as Perry. When it became Perry, the former Walgreens lunch counter was split off into its own storefront, which is still a coney island restaurant. The rest of the store is still vacant and it has a sign for Perrylink, their computer prescription system. Eastland (now Courtland) also closed as Perry and became, of all things, an auxilary JCPenney store. I found it very bizarre that JCPenney had not one, but two auxilary stores (the other being a former Marianne repurposed for the intimates and women's clothing). JCPenney has since moved within the mall, so the auxilary stores are gone.

The first standalone Walgreens I remember going into was in Grand Blanc in the late 90s.

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