Sunday Adverts: Haag Drugs

Written by on January 11, 2015 in Sunday Ads - 11 Comments
0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 LinkedIn 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×



If you’ve lived in Indiana long (and you’re older than 20) you probably have fond memories of the late Haag Drug Stores. Within our lifetime, Haag’s was your average drug store — the kind of place where you could get pills, potions and practical advice from the pharmacist who lived right down the street. What you probably didn’t realize, as you perused the aisles for acne creams and candy buttons, is just how far back the company’s history went.

Haag Drug Stores: A National Chain with Roots in Indianapolis

The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis tells us that German-born brothers Louis and Julius Haag opened their first drug store in 1876, at 802 Massachusetts Avenue.  Within a few years, there would be a chemist on (literally) every Indy street corner, so to distinguish themselves from the competition, they branded their store as a volume business — cutting prices on those items most popular with their customers, by 10- to 20-percent. This new business model was so successful, the concept quickly spread nationwide.

cut price

Haag’s was responsible for coining the phrase “cut price drugs.”

By the early 1900s, the brothers had four stores in the downtown area, open seven days a week, as late as 11:00 p.m. Business boomed for the brothers Haag — but things didn’t always go smoothly. An article in the NARD Journal (National Association of Retail Druggists) reported:

James Hemphill has been detailed for the purpose of ascertaining whether any registered pharmacist has violated the prohibition law, which can be developed by an examination of the prescriptions for whisky that have been filled at the Haag stores. Upon examination of the records of the state board of pharmacy it was disclosed that the board, October 12, 1911, on the ground of gross immorality, revoked the pharmacist’s licenses held by Julius A. Haag and Louis E. Haag … in that they used their pharmacist’s certificates of registration for the purpose of aiding them in conducting and maintaining a place in Marion County for the illegal sale of intoxicating liquors…”

(Nevermind that the major “active ingredient” of most patent “remedies” sold in the pharmacies of the day was… none other than… alcohol.)

Despite this moment of moral medical malfeasance (or perhaps because of it) Haag Drugs prospered. As the second generation of the family began to take over the business in the 1930s, the company expanded its stores into residential neighborhoods.

In the 1950s, businessman Sam B. Moxley purchased, modernized and expanded the chain even further. Moxley responded to consumer demand for a wider selection of merchandise, more convenient hours and ample marking in locations closer to home. By the end of the decade, business had increased a whopping 250-percent.

In the 1970s the chain changed ownership and expanded once again, acquiring stores from other chains in other states, making it a true nationwide organization under a series of names: Peoples Drugs, Reliable Drugs, Osco Drugs and now, CVS.

Enjoy these 1910s-era Haag ads from the Indianapolis Star:







And some Haag advertising items recently found on eBay:







Where was your neighborhood Haag Drugs?
Tell us in the comment box below.


0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 LinkedIn 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×

Valuing = Supporting

Publishing HI every day is more than just a ’labor of love‘ (though we do love it), but takes hundreds of hours each month to create. If you are entertained, inspired, better informed, feel more connected with Indy or just value what you discover here, please consider becoming a supporting member with a recurring monthly donation.

Or, become a one-time supporter with a single donation in any amount you choose.

More old-fashioned? Checks or money orders may be sent to: at P.O. Box 2999, Indianapolis, IN 46206

Thank you and HI-5! Love, The HI Team

About the Author

Lisa Lorentz is a writer, nonprofit director, native Hoosier & Indianapolitan with an awkward fascination for dusty attics, antique typewriters and microfilm.

11 Comments on "Sunday Adverts: Haag Drugs"

  1. Chris Bodem January 11, 2015 at 6:33 am · Reply

    On the northwest corner of 86th and Westfield Blvd.

  2. Tom Davis January 13, 2015 at 9:00 am · Reply

    I grew up in Terre Haute and the Haag Drug Store I remember was at 6th and Wabash in the heart of downtown. I bought the Led Zepplin II album there, and probably others as well.

    I don’t know if they were co-owned, but there was a Huddles Restuarant downstairs and since my high school did not have a cafeteria, it was one of the places we would go to for lunch sometimes.

    • Rob G'Sell April 6, 2017 at 10:37 pm · Reply

      I’m not sure but I think Huddle’s was started by Hook Drug. Anybody have insight on this?

  3. Jimmy Kenney January 14, 2015 at 10:48 pm · Reply

    56th & Illinois Street….used to hang out there as a kid after swimming at Riviera Club. Great memories!

  4. Chas Winstone February 24, 2015 at 1:13 pm · Reply

    Owensboro, Ky. I can still remember going with my parents to get prescriptions filled and to purchase odds and ends. They closed it and now it’s a Family Dollar store.

  5. Robin April 17, 2015 at 2:40 am · Reply

    Worked at the main office at 506 N. Davidson, Indianapolis Indiana 46202 from April 1978 – December 1980 as a computer operator. This was back in the days of punched cards. First job right after technical school.

  6. Jeno lemay September 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm · Reply

    My aunt worked at the Haag at 22nd Meridian. Grew up in that store. I miss neighborhood stores that you felt like they cared about you when you shopped.

  7. Pat Krebs October 21, 2015 at 9:18 am · Reply

    I have a real old bottle of Haag’s Drug Store alcohol I found in my garage.

  8. Andrew Studley November 26, 2016 at 10:32 pm · Reply

    My grandfather Ralph Studley was a pharmacist at an Indianapolis Haag for many years. Special times.

  9. George Wagner January 30, 2017 at 9:37 pm · Reply

    I worked at Haag Drug store in Kokomo during my entire four years ar Kokomo High – 1956 to 1960. In my senior year I was offered a scholarship by Haag to attend Butler U to become a pharmacist. I turned down the offer to go to Rose Tech to become an engineer. I learned many valuable life lessons during my time at Haag. My bosses and colleagues were excellent. Among them were Carl Thatcher, George Tooms, Ruth Russell, and many others whose names escape me.

    Grorge Wagner

  10. Rob G'Sell April 6, 2017 at 10:34 pm · Reply

    My local Haag was in Irvington Plaza on East Washington Street in Indy. Oak Health occupies the corner spot now. I also rember across the parking lot was a Shoppers Fair discount store.

Leave a Comment