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If you’ve lived in Indiana long (and you’re older than 20) you likely 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, was how far back the company’s history went.

Haag Drug Stores: A National Chain with Roots in Indianapolis

The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis reveals that German-born brothers Louis and Julius Haag opened their first drug store in 1876, at 802 Massachusetts Avenue.  Within a few years, there were chemists on most 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.

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

By the early 1900s, the brothers had four stores in the downtown area, were 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…”

Never mind 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 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:

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Haag advertising items may also be found on eBay now and then:

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Where was your neighborhood Haag Drugs?

21 responses to “Sunday Adverts: Haag Drugs”

  1. Chris Bodem says:

    On the northwest corner of 86th and Westfield Blvd.

  2. Tom Davis says:

    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.

  3. Jimmy Kenney says:

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

  4. Chas Winstone says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

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

  8. Andrew Studley says:

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

  9. George Wagner says:

    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 says:

    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.

  11. Rob G'Sell says:

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

  12. Mary Ann Underwood says:

    I remember the Haags at 42nd and College Avenue in Indianapolis. It was on the adjacent corner from the Uptown Drugstore. I visited both as a youngster but my parents preferred Haags. My mother or father in the 40’s would provide me with a note saying that I could purchase a package of cigarettes for them Camels for Dad and Pall Malls for mother. I knew the man behind the counter would ask my parents the next time they saw them if I got them home. Which, of course, I always did. I remember the yo-yo man outside on the corner in front of the store showing tricks we could do and then buy a yo-yo inside the store. Also remember when the occasional Phillip Morris Cigarette fellow would show up and do his “Call for Phillip Morris” slogan on the corner passing out souvineers to those of age.

  13. Albert Minnick says:

    I was Chief Pharmacist and later store manager of Haag #51 Northwest Plaza Muncie,In.At that time we were the #1 store both in total sales and in Rx sales(also Rx filled).I worked with and for many super people such as Ray Icard,Kent Richwine,George Toomes,Gayle Doster,Al Jones,Dave White,Dave Gibson,Tim Girton,Bob Stafford,Dale Rankin,Ken Ross,Gail Kuhn(whom I married),Ginny Malloch,Stachia Curtis,Mike Lawell,Jim Goodman,Arnold Bussey,Pat Flynn,Ed Bloomer,Bob Dyer,Bernie Young ad Jim Deck(a longtime friend from Logansport).
    As John Wayne said in “Hondo”-It’s over to bad it was a good way of life(Puts present day chain Pharmacies to shame)

    OWL

  14. Danny Bodenbender says:

    Defiance,Ohio opened in 1971? Ed Vachett was the mgr..I still remember their cost code on the price sticker was quick trade,for the numbers 0 thru 9.I didn’t work there but my wife worked the cosmetics dept..Vern Salter was one of the pharmacists and lived in Bryan, Ohio

  15. Robert Hobbs says:

    In the early 80s I was the asst. manager in that store for a while until I was promoted to manage the store at 21st and Post Rd. The manager that was there for sometime was named Fred. Can’t recall his last name. Who was your aunt? My name is Robert Hobbs.

  16. Tammy Dailey says:

    I have an unopened package of all black Penrite Construction Paper with a HAAG price sticker on it. It has a price of .69 cents on it, and I was wondering if anyone can tell from that price, around what year it was purchased. I’m guessing around 1968 or so, the package was inside of a photo album that I had made as a child in bible school. I grew up in the Fort Wayne Indiana area. I don’t remember those stores. Just curious…

  17. Marilyn Farmer Callahan says:

    So – I worked at The Haag drug store at 13th and locust in terre haute indiana from 1972-1975 – dean chandler was manager and rod hardy was assistant manager – I remember selling cigarettes 33 cents a pack with a penny tax – or if you bought two packs – you saved a penny and only were charged 67 cents instead of 68 cents. One time we received a truck load of four pack toilet paper by mistake from the Indianapolis warehouse – so dean put a sign on the window – “limit – one pack of toilet paper per customer” – customers perceived this to mean there was a shortage of toilet paper -so they brought in their whole families and each lined up with their own pack and money to buy – took forever ringing up single packs with each customer! One summer – dean had stored fire works – illegally – in the rafters of our warehouse – they caught fire and burned a huge part of the store – I took part in packing up the old merchandise and selling it to a fire store in Texas – rebuilding and washing and washing and washing metal shelving and then restocking the newly renovated store with new merchandise – became cosmetic manager when we re-opened. The most hilarious story I tell of this time is once when I was on the front register – age 16 – a customer came up to me and asked – “where’s the Trojans”? Not knowing what they were – I got on the intercom and asked for their locations – the customer was very humiliated and left the store – someone came to the register and enlightened me – I can still hear the laughter from employees and customers till this day! 46 years later and my experience working for Haag drug is still benefiting me – after I married and moved out of state I continued in the retail sector using my experience restarting Haag Drug to open a department store in Minneapolis, continue as a cosmetic department manager in three different states, become a store manager and open new stores for a furniture company, and jump start a kitchen design business. Starting salary at Haag Drug $1.25 per hour – and I was able to support myself on that.

  18. Robert Frew says:

    I worked at Store 65 by Great Scot when I was in High School. Then transferred to store 64 downtown and worked for Warren Johnson. Great memories. My sister worked in cosmetics with you as well.

  19. Richard L Sprehe says:

    I was the PIC at the Haag Drug store in Salem Illinois and Ray Icard was our DM, a man we all respected. Our store went on to become a Peoples Drug store, Reliable Drug and now CVS.

  20. Tom S. Foster says:

    My very first full-time work career of a 40 hour per week employment was with Haag Drug’s Devington Shopping Center location at 46th Street and Arlington Ave. In Indianapolis. I had 28 months with the company from September of 1970 to about the end of 1972. Most of that time I had Bob Dyer as my boss. I was the only daytime full-time stock clerk. Several young high school boys were the evening and weekend clerks. I asked Mr. Dyer if I could do my hours of 9 – 5 Monday through Friday and let “the boys” do the other. He made that possible and, in the decades of all my retail employment years (38 or so) Bob Dyer was my best manager to work for.
    Here’s some first for me during that time with Haag’s: first owned car (’66 Pontiac LeMans); my first purchase of beer; dating several of the gals who worked there (a bit tricky to do)…there’s probably a few more but can’t quite remember them. Anyway…Haag Drug Store was a Hoosier icon in my book. I was sad to read how they sold out to eventually CVS.

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