Walgreens was founded in 1901 by Charles R. Walgreens, Sr. in Chicago, Illinois, but a bit before what we know as Walgreens was created, Mr. Walgreen worked in his father’s pharmacy in Dixon, Illinois. As the story goes, Mr. Walgreen was unable to play sports due to an injury. During his time working for his father, he cut off the tip of his middle finger, ending his athletics permanently and opening up Walgreen’s future in the pharmacy business.
Walgreen, Sr., while the pharmacists at his first location, also developed his own line of drugs in hopes of providing his customers with the highest quality medication and drugs at the lowest prices; a practice many big name pharmacies take part in presently, i.e. generic brands. By 1909, the second Walgreens opened for business and in 1922, with nine stores opened, they created the malted milkshake. Twenty-six years after opening, Walgreens was armed with 100 stores as they went public with their stocks.
There are many other innovations that Walgreens can be credited with, such as helping celebrate the Chicago’s World Fair, where they seized the opportunity to layout and test four different drugstore designs, layouts, lighting techniques and colors in hope of modernization.
Unfortunately, in 1939 Walgreen, Sr. passed away and Charles Walgreen, Jr. became the company’s president. Soon after, Walgreen, Jr. implemented their first nonprofit drugstore, located at the Pentagon (later closing in the 1980s), entering the foreign market, building their first self service store, and becoming the first chain to use child-resistant containers.
Thirty years later, Charles Walgreen III became the company’s president. Soon after, Walgreens reached $1 billion in sales.
The beginning of the 80s brought a technological change which revolutionized the way that Walgreens operated: their first intercom computers. This allowed for Walgreens to get the ball rolling as the first drugstore chain to connect with its other pharmacies through satellite. This would later be rolled out into all stores nationwide, after its initial start in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1997.
At the turn of the century, Walgreens introduced their online pharmacy, Charles Walgreen III retired as chairman of Walgreens, reached 3,000 locations nationwide, and celebrated their own centennial (June 2001). Throughout the last seventeen years, Walgreens has continued to expand the number of locations, through new store openings and acquisitions, as well as the services they provide.
In 2014, “Walgreens took its products and services to the four corners of the world with the completion of its merger with Alliance Boots, a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group. With the completion of the merger comes the formation of a new global company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, combining two leading companies with iconic brands, complementary geographic footprints, shared values and a heritage of trusted health care services through pharmaceutical wholesaling and community pharmacy care, dating back more than 100 years each,” (walgreens.com).
There are currently over 8,100 Walgreens stores throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and as of 2015, Stefano Pessina hold the seat of Chief Executive Officer.
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