Rexall #atozchallenge

Publichall at the English language Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

My final class for my BBA was a management course where we would take case studies of different businesses and analyze them. For our final project, we were to study a man named Justin Dart, who was from the Chicago area and who for years had headed the Rexall drug store chain.

He was an interesting guy. He went to Northwestern where he played football, then married Ruth Walgreen, whose father headed the Walgreens drug store chain. Daddy-in-law gave him an executive position, giving him the opportunity to experiment with a couple of ideas. Most notably, he moved the pharmacy to the back of the store, giving the customers some privacy when they were having their prescriptions filled, and guaranteeing that they had to walk through the entire store to get there.

The marriage and the job ended in the early 1940’s, and soon he moved to Boston to head up the United Drug Store chain. They had drug stores under four different names (Ligget, Owl, Sonta, and Rexall), and one of his first acts was to rename all of them Rexall. Soon there were Rexall stores all throughout the US and Canada, and he was considered the "boy wonder" of the drug store business. He sold his stake in Rexall in 1978 (the year I graduated with my BBA), but by then had acquired stakes in Avon, West Bend Housewares, Duracell, Tupperware Home Parties, and a few other businesses and operated them as Dart Industries, which he sold to Kraft in 1980.

(Many thanks to Wikipedia for all that information.)

There were Rexall drug stores all over Chicago, almost as many as there were Walgreens, and the orange and blue sign was familiar to all of us. There was a Rexall on my grandmother’s corner, and we used to go in and get candy and coloring books when we’d go to her house. Their one big sale during the year was their "1 Cent Sale," which I’ll let the March Hare explain…

That commercial was from 1966, which explains the prices.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I got an A in the class…

31 thoughts on “Rexall #atozchallenge

  1. Wow! That’s a drug store I haven’t heard of in a long time. Drugs stores aren’t the same as they were when I was growing up. I remember my dad being able to run up a tab.

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    1. They turned all the Eckerds here into Rite-Aids, then those closed, too. Caremark runs CVS and Aetna (my insurance company), so I use them. We also have Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger and Publix (our two grocery store chains), so drug store wise we’re doing fine.

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        1. They’re really busy all the time at the CVS we go to, so I suppose they’re doing well. Kind of felt bad for moving my prescriptions from Walgreens, though: I grew up in Chicago and Walgreens started there….

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    1. Sales like that one were there to get people to try the house-brand products, which are frequently as good as or better than the national brand (in fact, many of them are made by the same companies). Aspirin is aspirin, whether it’s Bayer or Rexall brand, so why not buy the store brand?

      Dart was a minor genius. He bought into Tupperware when it was just starting out, and it was the most valuable part of his portfolio when he sold it to Kraft. The stuff made wonderful wedding gifts (I know that because when we got married we got lots of Tupperware, all in the colors of the day, brown, yellow and orange…)

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  2. This is true. I lived in Chicago when I was little. We had a Rexall on 48th & Cicero Ave., which was about 5 blocks away from us when we first moved in and then a few years later… well maybe four or five yrs. another went up about 3 yrs. later only 4 blocks away from us… walking distance. That one was owned by this dirty old man that was crabby most of the time and really priced high. We never went there and when we past by there he was out in front sitting making nasty remarks as we went by. We told my dad & him and his brother and a friend went there and made the man an offer he couldn’t refuse and there were no more nasty remarks nor did he sit out in front. ~hehehe~ Have a great day my friend. Oh and X was pretty hard to find, but Y and Z I have one for them, but the others I’m still looking. Well, I was at the dentist today so I think it’s time for a short nap. Later………. have a great day!

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  3. I remember going to Rexall in the City before going to the movies with my mom. We’d have lunch at the counter and then get some candy to take in the theater with us. Great times.!

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  4. Growing up in Northern California our pharmacy was a Rexall. Now so many stores have buy one get one free sales, but the one cent deal was probably something new then. Funny how our brains work. I can now picture not only the outside of Rexall, but some views in my head of the interior! This was in the 60s. Boy, next I’ll be thinking of the Doggy Diner shaped like a dachshund!

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    1. The one cent sale was practically a buy-one-get-one sale, when you think about it…

      I remember a lot of places I’ve been well enough that it’s like I’m standing in them. Kind of spooky, actually…

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  5. When I was very little, we lived in Oregon’s mountains (we had a star route for mail delivery, if that gives you an idea). Going into town to get groceries at Horner’s Market and sundries at the Rexall was a huge treat. Thanks!

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  6. I wish those commercials would come back…they are fun, now if only the prices would come back. I know Re all well but didn’t know the history. So, he is the reason I have to walk all the way to the back of the store. There are some Rexall in our town but the biggie is Shopper’s Drug Mart which we go to.

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    1. Most of the stores in the US have closed, but the products are still around. They’re available at Dollar General. The Canadian stores split off into their own unit in ’85, but like you said, there are places that are cheaper.

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