Monday, May 27, 2013

Drug Emporium Lafayette LA

Drug Emporium was a large chain of drugstores similar to Phar-mor that flourished in the late 1980's and early 1990's with over 300 stores. The company had many franchises as well as company owned locations. Many stores were sold off in the early 2000's and the last corporate chains closed in 2003. Less than 20 locations remain under independant ownership under the Drug Emporium name. The Houston, San Antonio, and Austin markets lost their stores in 1999 according to this link.. Drug Emporium in Lafayette is located in a prime location near the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus and centrally located in the city. The store is slightly larger than a Walgreens or CVS stand alone store, and has a large vitamin and health section called Vitamin Plus that takes up about half of the store space. Going to this store is a nice change from the corporate chains and worth a visit if you are in the area. Here are a couple views from inside of the store. The store was busy so I was not comfortable taking too many photos.

14 comments:

  1. We had a Drug Emporium at FM 1960 and Breck St. in Houston during the 1990s that is now an Anna's Linens and 99 Cents Only. I suppose it looked a bit like the one you photographed inside. It's hard to remember for sure. I believe that they had a fragrance and/or jewelery desk up in the front right corner of the store if you're looking from the back of the store. It looks like there is a fragrance desk in that position in your picture. I'm pretty sure that the Houston one that I used to go to didn't have a drive-thru pharmacy though as the store was in the middle of a shopping center and drive-thru pharmacies would have been pretty innovative at the time. I think Eckerd and Walgreens started building drive-thru pharmacies in the mid-1990s with their first wave of freestanding stores.

    Reading the link on your article made me remember how much I liked Eckerd compared to Walgreens and CVS especially. Eckerd seemed to have better service and their photo department was a lot better than the other pharmacy type stores IMO. It was a bit interesting because Eckerd was in the process of building a couple of freestanding stores in my area right when JC Penney sold the stores in the region to CVS. One of these stores was at FM 1960 and N. Eldridge (where the old John Eagle Honda was before they moved to 290) and the other was at Huffmeister and Cypress-N-Houston (which used to be a Gulf/Chevron gas station). One of these stores existed as an Eckerd for a very brief matter of time and the other never opened even though construction started. I think it was the one on the old John Eagle Honda lot that never opened. They finished construction on it and some time later a Sound Fitness opened in it, but that is closed now and the building is empty again. The Cypress-N-Houston and Huffmeister one had an old Eckerd that was in the Safeway/AppleTree/Gerland's Food Fair/now FoodTown shopping center across Huffmesiter move in and operate for maybe two weeks before it was closed and converted into a CVS store. This must have happened in the early 2000s back when Walgreens, CVS, and Eckerd were in a freestanding store building binge. Anyway, it was very strange seeing new buildings built for a store and then never moved into or moved into very briefly by that store.

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    1. Rite-Aid was also planning on going into the Houston market around the time they took over K & B Drugstores, so there would have been 4 companies building stand-alone stores. It would have been interesting if all four would have occupied major intersections in parts of the city. I think the Houston Drug Emporium was larger than this store, but I am not 100% sure since I only went a few times to the 1960 location. Did you know where any other locations were? The article did not specify how many stores were in Houston and I only know of the one on 1960.

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    2. The FM 1960 and Breck St. location was the only Drug Emporium that I remember being in Houston. A quick search on Google indicates that there were also stores at 5003 Antoine Dr, Houston, TX 77092 and 14540 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079. I'm sure there were more than that though. I read a Yelp review of a seemingly currently operating Drug Emporium in Denton, TX and the reviews indicate that Drug Emporium does not accept credit cards. I know that it isn't totally unprecedented for bargain orientated stores not to accept credit cards, but it still seems quite odd not to accept cards in the current times.

      I did not know that Rite-Aid was considering entering Houston, but maybe I did read about that back in the day and I forgot about it. I'm not sure how Rite-Aid would have fared against CVS. It might have been a good idea that Rite-Aid did not enter the area because I'm not sure if there is/was room for two new competitors. Eckerd was seemingly on the way out, but Walgreens is a powerhouse and they probably would have survived regardless.

      Your post does bring up an interesting question. I know that there are intersections with both Walgreens and CVS locations near them, but were there any intersections in Houston that had CVS, Walgreens, and an Eckerd? I can't think of any like that, but maybe it would have happened if Eckerd built more freestanding locations before JC Penney sold their Eckerd locations. Fortunately there aren't too many abandoned freestanding drug stores in Houston yet. Walgreens and CVS seem to be doing pretty well even with their large expansion and most old Eckerd freestanding locations have been repurposed by CVS or other stores. The mid-90s Eckerd at Jones Rd. and Fallbrook Dr. turned into a NAM thrift store (which is pretty nice actually) and the one at FM 529 and Barker-Cypress turned into a Spec's Liquor. The FM 1960 and N. Eldridge one that I mentioned in the earlier post is currently unoccupied.

      Do you know anything about Sav-On Drugs presence in Houston back in the early 1980s or so? I don't really have any recollection of Sav-On ever being here, but I have a Sav-On photo finishing envelope from the early 1980s with a Houston address stamped on it (not far from where I live actually) so maybe they did exist here for a while. Perhaps these existed at Eagle Supermarkets and/or Gemco stores that were owned by Lucky Stores?

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    3. There are a few Drug Emporiums still in Texas, 14 according to Wikipedia. All of the stores are privately owned but still carry the name. All 4 companies here would have been overkill and hurt Rite Aid more than they were already hurt in the early 2000's. I do not know about Sav On here in Houston but I did not pay much attention to grocery stores when I was younger. It seemed as if the grocery stores kept changing in the late 80's early 90's as many companies came and went.

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  2. Great stuff from my home!! Did you check out the ongoing remodel at Acadiana Mall?

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  3. When I went the mall was not under construction. Did they recently start?

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  4. One example of cross-corner drug stores is LA 28 at LA 3144. Walgreens and C S directly across AND there was formerly an Eckerd's in the shopping center (now it is a Sears hardware location).

    Also, the acadiana mall remodel began in march they are well in to it

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    1. Ok thanks for the information, I was last there in early March. Which end of the mall did they start on first? That is definitely pharmacy overkill at that intersection.

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  5. This Drug Emporium was formerly a Howard's Brandiscount store (descendant of the old Gibsons chain.) After Howard's closed in the mid-80s, Drug Emporium came in, subdivided the building, and took the left half. The right half was empty until the early 2000s, when the office supply store moved in.

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    1. Thanks for the additional information on the building. The late 1980's early 90's was the time of major growth for Drug Emporium in the South.

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  6. Prior to being Howard's, this store was a Gibson's store. When Gibson's sold out to Howard's, the family that owned the Gibson's still held the building lease, and own Drug Emporiums in Longview, Tyler, Shreveport and Lafayette. They are based out of Longview. Recently, the office supply store moved out, and Drug Emporium expanded Vitamins Plus into the space.

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    1. The expanded Drug Emporium is probably now the largest currently operating store. I am glad to hear about the expansion and this ensures the store will continue to operate for years to come.

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  7. My father opened this store for Richard Gibson out of Longview TX. When the Walmart chains came in and distroyed all the smaller retail stores, "Gibsons" was one of them. A few years later, he opened a chain of "Drug Emporiums." My father would go in and start them up turn key with the lay out, venders etc. This was one of my first jobs.

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    1. Thanks for the personal story of the Drug Emporium. I am glad to see the chain doing good these days with the expansion of this store and the large health food section. Most of the Drug Emporiums I have recently visited have been busy.

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