Do you remember Drug Emporium?
Drug Emporium is the name of a discount drug store corporation, founded in 1977 in Columbus, Ohio, that was sold to several different buyers during 2000 to 2001. Although several store locations continue to use the Drug Emporium name, these locations are no longer affiliated with the now-defunct Columbus-based corporation. At the company’s high water mark in the 1990s, there were almost 300 locations scattered throughout the United States, including stores that operated under the F&M and VIX banners.
The company declared bankruptcy in April 2001 as a condition of its sale to Snyder Drug of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Various causes have been attributed, with most citing the company’s failure to effectively compete with Walgreens, CVS Corporation and other drug store chains. Additionally, much time, effort and money was spent attempting to leverage the power of the brick and mortar Drug Emporium locations into the failed DrugEmporium.com website that was seen as the company’s future. This “click and mortar” approach, typical of the pre-dot-com bubble mentality of the late 1990s, never fully materialized and served only to deepen the company’s economic troubles.
The large base of franchised Texas and West Virginia locations, along with company-owned California locations were sold off and a single location in Lafayette, Louisiana to independent owners. Then, on September 12, 2003, Snyder Drug closed all of the remaining corporate-owned stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Wisconsin due to significant capital infusions and to escape bankruptcy. Although the chain was founded in Columbus, Ohio, it no longer has stores in its home state. Snyder Drug was owned by the Katz Group of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada until its sale to Walgreens in 2010.
Drug Emporium currently operates in two independently owned store groups run by former franchisers. Discount Emporium Inc. operates three West Virginia-owned stores located in Barboursville and Charleston. Longview, Texas-based Gibson Sales, L.P., operates a larger group of 14 stores throughout markets in central and northern Texas; Lafayette and Shreveport, in Louisiana; and Little Rock, Arkansas. The new concept Drug Emporiums feature a health food store within each store.
The Rise & Fall of Drug Emporium
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