Peoples Drug

Peoples Drug was a chain of drugstores based in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.[1] Founded in 1905, Peoples was subsequently purchased by Lane Drug in 1975, Imasco in 1984, and finally by CVS in 1990, which continued to run the stores under the Peoples banner until 1994, at which time the stores were converted to CVS, marking the end of the use of the Peoples Drug name.

Peoples Drug Stores
Peoples Drug
FateAcquired by CVS
Founded1905; 115 years ago (1905) in Washington, D.C.
FounderMalcolm Gibbs
DefunctMay 1994; 26 years ago (1994-05)
HeadquartersAlexandria, Virginia
ProductsPharmacy, Liquor, Cosmetics, Health and Beauty Aids, General Merchandise, Snacks, 1 Hour Photo


Peoples Drug was founded by Malcolm Gibbs in 1905 at 824 7th Street, NW.[2] By 1930, it had 110 stores operating under the Peoples Drugs, Days Drug, and Shearer Drug names. There were variations of the name, with Peoples Service Drug, and Gibbs Peoples Drug being most common.

In 1970, Peoples had 252 stores operating in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, New York, and New Jersey. That year there were 5,500 employees, with sales of $220 million and profits of $1.87 million.[3] By 1975, Peoples had grown to 500 stores. Later in the year, the chain was purchased by Lane Drug of Toledo, Ohio.,[4][5][6] The new company retained the Peoples name, and included Lane Drug, Schuman Drug, Dynamic Drug, Health Mart, Reed Drug, and Lee Drug.

Lane president Sheldon "Bud" Fantle took over the presidency of the chain and went to work on improving merchandising and customer service at Peoples. In 1980, Peoples acquired the Indianapolis-based Haag Drug which had 80 drug stores in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky.[7][8][9] In 1985, two 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) "Bud's Deep Discount Drug Stores" were opened in the Toledo area, with others in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The name "Bud's" was derived from the nickname of Sheldon "Bud" Fantle.[10] In January, 1987, Mr. Fantle left Peoples[11] and later took control of troubled Dart Drug in Washington DC, renaming those stores Fantle's.[12]

Peoples Drug store in Washington, D.C., ca. 1920

Acquisition by ImascoEdit

In 1984, Peoples was acquired for $320 million by the Canadian conglomerate Imasco, the Canadian arm of British American Tobacco, and owner of Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix in Canada.[13][14] At that time, Peoples and its divisions had close to 800 stores and became one of the country's leading drug chains.

After being acquired by Imasco, Peoples quickly acquired Rea & Derick in 1985[15] and also took control of the Florida Shoppers Drug Mart locations.[16]

Sales and conversionsEdit

Over the years, the Haag stores were converted to Peoples in 1983,[17] and Dynamic and Schuman were converted to Lane. A program was implemented to convert all stores to the Peoples Drug name. Many Lane and Rea & Derick stores were converted, all stores began selling Peoples Brand product, and began using bags with the Peoples Drug logo. Not long after being acquired by Imasco in 1984, Peoples decided to sell some of their stores and concentrate on the Mid Atlantic states.

First to go were the 35 Florida Shoppers Drug Mart stores that was sold to Eckerd in 1986.[18] Next was the Atlanta based Reed/Lee Drug to Big B Drugs in 1989 for $50 million.[19] The 85 store division gave Big B their entrance into the Atlanta market, a goal they had been working on for years. The next sale was the 114-store Lane drug to Rite Aid,[20] effective April 11, 1989. The last phase was the Indiana division of Peoples being sold in 1989 to a group of former Rite Aid officials that was headed by Roger Grass,[21][22] changing the former Peoples stores to Reliable Drugs.[23] Reliable survived only four years before it filed for bankruptcy and its stores were sold off to Osco Drug and Rite Aid in 1993.[24][25]

Sale to CVSEdit

Final Peoples Drug logo (late 1980s-mid 1990s) before conversion to CVS name

After the dust settled from the sales, Imasco decided to unload the Peoples Drug chain, as Peoples was not performing at the level Imasco had hoped. In late 1990, CVS Corporation purchased Peoples for $330 Million.[26] CVS kept the Peoples Drug name in place, remodeled most stores to the CVS format and improved the stores' sales.[27] The Peoples name was considered to be too strong a name to change it to CVS/pharmacy immediately. The name did ultimately change in May 1994, just a few months before the Peoples Drug name would have celebrated its 90th anniversary.[28]


  1. ^ "CVS sees lean staff, new prototype in Peoples Drug's future. (Peoples Drug Stores)(includes related information on new store prototype)". Drug Store News. November 19, 1990. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
  2. ^ DeFerrari, John (December 5, 2011). "The Once-Ubiquitous Peoples Drug Stores". Streets of Washington (blog). Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Washington Area Boasts Some Large Companies". The Washington Post, Times Herald. January 9, 1972. p. N1. Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  4. ^ Barclay, M. & Glaab, C. (1982). "The Lane Drug Company". In Barclay, Morgan (ed.). Toledo, Gateway to the Great Lakes. Continental Heritage Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-0932986214.
  5. ^ Wang, Robert (May 23, 2009). "Rite Aid's closing is a blow to Canton neighborhood". Canton Repository.
  6. ^ "Lane Drugs to go Public Within Year". Toledo Blade. December 14, 1971. p. 1 – via Google News.
  7. ^ "New Leadership, New Thinking Revitalize Peoples Drug Stores". Toledo Blade. August 3, 1980. p. B6. Retrieved 8 January 2015 – via Google News.
  8. ^ "Income Increases At Peoples Drug". Toledo Blade. December 3, 1979. p. 30 – via Google News.
  9. ^ Knight, Jerry (October 25, 1979). "Peoples Drug To Take Over 80-Store Chain". Washington Post.
  10. ^ "2 Discount Drugstores Will be Built in Toledo". Toledo Blade. June 13, 1985. p. 44 – via Google News.
  11. ^ Mayer, Caroline E. (February 17, 1987). "Sheldon Fantle Starts Over Again". Washington Post.
  12. ^ Pyatt, Rudolph A., JR. (November 13, 1987). "The Risky Takeover Of Dart Drug". Washington Post.
  13. ^ Rowe, James L., Jr. (February 28, 1984). "Canadian Firm Will Purchase Peoples Drug". Washington Post.
  14. ^ "Peoples Drug to Be Acquired". New York Times. February 28, 1984.
  15. ^ Pounds, Marcia H. (May 6, 1985). "Mergers: Prescription For Drug Stores". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  16. ^ Regan, M.B. (April 28, 1986). "Newsmakers: Peoples Names New Top Team". Washington Post.
  17. ^ "Haag conversion nears completion". The Indianapolis Star. April 14, 1983. p. 30 – via Peoples, based at Alexandria, Va., purchased the Haag chain in May 1980. Peoples has several such divisions with different names, and "the long term goal is to have all the divisions under one umbrella." said Bethel. Stores at Evansville were remodeled and renamed last August with considerable success, he said. The conversion of Haag Drug Stores to Peoples Drug Stores in the Indianapolis area should be completed by the end of April, a Haag official said Wednesday. Charles S. Bethel, marketing manager, said most of the 37 stores in the area have been remodeled, and sign changes will occur first in the stores outside Marion County.
  18. ^ Rubinkowski, Leslie (March 12, 1989). "Sign Of The Times Growing Dominance Of Pharmacy Chains May Signal End Of Corner Drugstores". Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.
  19. ^ Burritt, Chris (January 19, 1989). "Birmingham-Based Big B Will Buy Reed Drug". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. p. E6. Birmingham, Ala.-based Big B Inc. said Wednesday it will enter the highly competitive metro Atlanta drugstore market with the purchase of Reed Drug Co., which has 85 stores in Georgia and Alabama. Big B said it will pay about $50 million for Reed Drug, including 59 stores in metro Atlanta, 22 elsewhere in the state and four in Alabama. The deal is scheduled to close in the next 30 days to 45 days... Reed, which is owned by Alexandria, Va.-based Peoples Drug Stores Inc., has annual revenues in excess of $100 million. The 85 stores and a distribution center and a divisional office in Atlanta employ about 1,200 people. The stores operate under the names "Reed" in the Atlanta area and "Lee" in the Columbus, Ga., area and Alabama. Big B officials weren't available Wednesday to discuss their plans for the Reed stores.
  20. ^ Demick, Barbara (March 4, 1989). "Rite Aid Acquiring An Ohio Drugstore Chain". Philadelphia Inquirer. p. B05. Rite Aid Corp., the nation's largest drugstore operator, is adding another chain to its roster of 2,171 drugstores with an agreement announced yesterday to acquire Lane Drug Co. of Ohio. The agreement calls for Rite Aid to take over 114 drugstores with annual sales of about $125 million. Almost all of the Lane stores are in Ohio, where Rite Aid is already the dominant drugstore chain, with 280 stores. Other Lane stores are in the area of Erie, Pa. The price was not disclosed.
  21. ^ Demick, Barbara & Biddle, Daniel R. (August 20, 1989). "At Last, He's Filling His Own Prescription For Success". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
  22. ^ Demick, Barbara & Biddle, Daniel R. (September 4, 1989). "Rite Aid Fledgling Flies On Own". Chicago Tribune.
  23. ^ McKinney, Kathy (October 18, 1989). "Reliable Drugs name chosen for Peoples". Bloomington Pantagraph. p. D2. Reliable Drugs is the name chosen for the about 114 drugstores purchased in August from the Peoples Drug Chain, it was announced. The stores, including five in Bloomington-Normal, will begin operating under their new identity next month, with changeover of stores signs completed by January, said president Roger Grass. Reliable Drug Stores Inc. is headquartered at the former Peoples' regional distribution center in Indianapolis. Stores are in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Kentucky.
  24. ^ "Reliable Drug Store Chain Liquidating". Associated Press. May 27, 1993.
  25. ^ "Reliable Drugstores Decides To Liquidate Chain". New York Times. May 28, 1993.
  26. ^ Swisher, Kara (June 26, 1990). "Peoples Drug Sold for $330 Million". Washington Post.
  27. ^ Swisher, Kara (May 22, 1991). "CVS Bringing New Look to Peoples Drug". Washington Post.
  28. ^ Swisher, Kara (January 18, 1994). "Peoples Drug Owner Will Rename Chain". Washington Post.

Further readingEdit

  • Peoples Drug Store Annual Reports 1965-1983
  • Imasco Enterprises Annual Reports 1984-1990
  • Melville Corporation Annual Reports 1991-1995
  • "The Chain Welder", Peoples Drug Company Magazine 1920-1937
  • "Employee Handbook" Peoples Drug, August 1979
  • "Peoples People" Peoples Drug Company Magazine 1941-1958