Inside This Issue - News
Discount Drug Mart celebrates
March 16th, 2009
MEDINA, Ohio – Discount Drug Mart is a survivor. At a time when most other regional drug chains have long since been swallowed up by national players, the company is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a northern Ohio retailer.
Discount Drug Mart has been able to thrive due to humility, employee loyalty and a conservative approach to growth, according to chief financial officer Tom McConnell.
The 68-unit chain was founded in 1969 by Parviz Boodjeh with one store in Elyria, Ohio, outside Cleveland. Ahead of his time, Boodjeh saw the potential for a “super drug store” with significantly more space and breadth of product than the typical corner drug store of the day. With convenience items and selected hard goods, as well as a pharmacy and health and beauty items, the idea was to offer one-stop shopping.
The success of the Elyria outlet led to a second opening in Amherst, Ohio, two years later. Boodjeh saw an opportunity for further growth with the movement of supermarketers to larger stores. As A&P and Kroger Co. increased the size of their footprint, they left behind 16,000-square-foot stores, which fit the Discount Drug Mart mold. The upshot was that in one year in the 1970s, Boodjeh opened five stores in spaces vacated by supermarket chains.
“He practically worked around the clock over that period of time,” McConnell says of Boodjeh, who today as chairman remains on top of daily operations.
Primarily operated as a family business, Discount Drug Mart by 1980 had 13 outlets. A decade later it had 27 in nine counties in northeastern Ohio.
Over the years Boodjeh tweaked the Discount Drug Mart concept. Initially selling lawn mowers, he discovered that customers returned them when they broke down. Deciding to stay out of the repair business, he opted to give up lawn mowers in favor of spark plugs, belts and parts that people could use for their own lawn mower repair. In that same vein he stocked plumbing parts, paint and paintbrushes.
Besides sharp merchandising, McConnell attributes the chain’s longevity to good leadership and an “amazing” employee retention rate. A 20-year veteran, McConnell says he is probably one of the youngest tenured people in the management team.
There was also Boodjeh’s directive — especially noteworthy in light of current events — to “watch the pennies.”