Forbes' Pharmacy in its earlier years.

Houston’s longest operating business is under new ownership this week.

Forbes’ Pharmacy, owned over the years by three generations of the Forbes family and whose roots date to 1866, was sold in a transaction Monday to USA Drug, which operates 170 stores with retail outlets in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas.

Customers will see little change, and the business will be known as Forbes’ Pharmacy.

“It will be the same yahoos operating it,” joked Mark Forbes, who along with his father, Clay, sold the business. Mark Forbes will act as manager of the business. Clay Forbes is expected to work part time.

A community institution since John Blankenship started the pharmaceutical business shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, the Forbes family has owned the enterprise since 1933. The original brick structure and its sandstone blocks used for the foundation still stand. In the late 1950s, an addition more than doubled the amount of available floor space.

After the death of Dr. E.P. Blankenship, Fred Forbes, the father of Clay Forbes, managed the drug store for several years and later acquired it. Sons Clay and Marvin, who died in 1970, later joined the business, as did Mark Forbes. Clay and Mark Forbes represent the fourth and fifth generations of the family in the pharmacy business.

“Any changes will be transparent to customers,” said Mark Forbes, who noted the same faces will be in place.

USA Drug also owns a property at Ava and most recently acquired another in Mansfield. Its corporate headquarters is situated in Pine Bluff, Ark. Its ownership includes USA Drug, Super D Drugs, May’s Drug Stores, Drug Warehouse, Med-X Drugs and Ike’s Discount stores.

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