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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

GRAY DRUG STORES, INC.

GRAY DRUG STORES, INC.

GRAY DRUG STORES, INC., a leading drugstore chain and a pioneer in merchandising techniques, was founded by ADOLPH WEINBERGER, a Hungarian immigrant who opened his first drugstore at E. 30th St. and Scovill Ave. in 1912. Weinberger moved his store several times before introducing cut-rate prices at a Prospect Ave. location and by 1928 he had 7, which he organized as Weinberger Drug Stores, Inc. Despite the Depression, Weinberger rapidly expanded, and by 1936 the chain had grown to 29 stores with headquarters at 2400 Superior Ave. Operating under different names as the result of expansion, the company consolidated all of its stores under the name Gray Drug Stores Inc. in 1945.

Gray continued to grow after World War II, leasing drug departments in discount department stores and acquiring the Rink's Department Store chain in Cincinnati in 1964. Two years later, Gray moved into larger headquarters at 666 Euclid Ave. When Gray's business declined in the late 1960s, Weinberger's son, Jerome, rebuilt the company by emphasizing newer, larger drugstores with a greater variety of goods and health services. As a result, sales increased from $115 million in 1968 to $314 million in 1977. In order to focus on its drugstore business, Gray sold its 47 Rink's stores to COOK UNITED in 1981 and then acquired the 181-store Drug Fair chain, which gave it over 360 stores in the Midwest and East. Taken over by the SHERWIN-WILLIAMS CO. in Sept. 1981, the Gray Drug Fair Div. acquired 26 Cleveland-area Cunningham Drug Stores in 1982. In Dec. 1987 Sherwin-Williams sold its Gray Drug Chain to Rite Aid Corp. for $165 million. In 1995 Rite Aid had 52 drug stores in the Greater Cleveland area.