Editor’s note: On Friday, Jan. 27, Walgreens employees in Houston were told by a management employee that the firm’s store at 100 N. Grand Ave. would continue to operate from its current location and a closing would not occur in March.
More in the upcoming Herald.
Jan. 19, 2023 issue:
Houston is about to lose a dear, old friend.
Walgreens, the acquirer of the town’s corner drug store in 2012, will close the Grand Avenue location on March 7. It will make the first time since 1866 that a drug store has not operated from the location. It is Houston’s oldest business. Employees were told on Friday. Some preliminary outreach has occurred with potential candidates to fill an independent pharmacy.
Walgreens bought the store from USA Drug, which had acquired the business in 2008 from the Forbes family.
A community institution since John Blankenship started the pharmaceutical business shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, the Forbes family owned the enterprise since 1933. The original brick and sandstone blocks used for the foundation still stand. In the late 1950s an addition more than doubled the amount of available floor space. The property is owned by the late Clay and Leta Forbes’ niece, Ann Long, who helped them operate the store in later years.
After the death of Blankenship, Fred 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’s son, who died in 2013. They were the fourth and fifth generations of the family in the pharmacy business.
For Houston residents, the “drug store,” as it is known by locals, served as a community hub for generations. It’s soda fountain — which was later closed by Walgreens — was a popular spot for those attending the downtown movie theatre, the Melba. Kids gathered after school and at lunch time when the district allowed students to leave campus. Many a businessman in downtown Houston started the day for coffee at the drug store.
Generations of Houston residents had their first employment opportunity as one of several “soda jerks” hired by the Forbes family.