Monday, January 12, 2009

Peoples Drug Story

Peoples Drug Store at 7th and K Sts, Washington, D.C.

The Peoples chain of drug stores was based in Washington, D.C. and founded by Malcolm Gibbs in 1904 and by 1930 the chain had 110 stores. (These photographs were taken in the 1920's and early 1930's)

Interior of Peoples Drug Store, 8th and H Sts, Washington, D.C.

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.

Interior of Peoples Drug Store, 7th and M Sts, Washington, D.C.

In 1984, Peoples was acquired by the Canadian conglomerate Imasco, the Canadian arm of British American Tobacco. Peoples and its divisions had close to 800 stores and became one of the country's leading drug chains.

Peoples Drug Store, interior, 7th and K Sts, Washington, D.C.

In late 1990, CVS Corporation purchased Peoples. The Peoples name was considered to be too strong a name to change it to CVS/pharmacy immediately, but was ultimately changed in May of 1994, just a few months before the Peoples Drug name would have celebrated its 90th anniversary.

Peoples Drug Store, interior, 14th and U Sts, Washington, D.C.

LINK: These glass negative photographs are part of the National Photo Company Collection at the Library of Congress.


Keith said...

We had a People's in the city next to the town I live in. That was the drug store we always went to when I was a kid.

Major Pepperidge said...

These are fascinating! It's fun playing "What the heck IS that?", trying to identify some of the stuff on the walls and on display.

Anonymous said...

Great photos of Peoples Drug Stores!

My great uncle was Malcolm Gibbs. He was a pharmacist who moved to DC from Tennessee. When he owned his first store, the story is he was walking down the street and noticed a "fire sale. " That store had suffered a fire, and was selling inventory at a reduced rate. He got the idea that he could reduce his prices and sell at a higher volume. Thus, one of the first discount, volume drug stores.

Apparently the staff at Peoples loved him so much that when he retired, they chipped in and bought him a platinum watch.

I never met him, but I hear he was quite an interesting character.

PS After he sold the chain, I'm told the cleanliness of the stores declined....

Ray said...

I grew up in Richmond, Va in the late 40's, early 50's. PEOPLES was a popular store. I was often told that during the depression, free ketchup, crackers and hot water was always available (tomato soup) and that PEOPLES kept many folks from going hungry.

Linda Lambertson said...

When I was a very small child, my mother worked at Peoples Drug Store behind the lunch counter. I would sit up on the stool and could hardly reach the staw. I had to bend the straw down to drink out of it. I wish I knew which one it was that she worked at. The photo of the one on 14th and Park Road, Washington, D.C. Looks like the one she worked at. There was a Park across the street where I would play at.