Although you may not be aware, Walgreens has made it their purpose to champion the health and well-being of every community in America, and yes, they’re doing a spectacular job.
Now, if there’s anything America’s sweet Golden Age of Capitalism brought to the world, then it’s great companies, one of which is a drugstore that rose from ashes to achieve a height—and history—only few can dream of, and that company is Walgreens.
Walgreens rose from being just a regular neighborhood store to becoming one of the largest pharmacy store chains in the country. Today, Walgreens has earned a solid reputation as the best and affordable destination for prescription medications.
The company operates over 9,000 drugstores in every state of America, not to mention that it serves an astonishing 8 million customers daily. The company’s vast network of shops employs almost a quarter-million employees.
But How Did It All Begin?
Understand that Walgreens wasn’t always the giant it is today. In fact, the store started as just a neighborhood store until Charles Rudolph Walgreen Sr., its founder, came along in 1901 and started the company.
But before Charles Rudolph started his company, he’d worked as a staff in Horton’s Drugstore in Illinois at the age of sixteen, a company that eventually failed. Charles Rudolph’s time with Horton’s Drugstore led him to take up a career in pharmacy.
He registered his company in 1893 and moved to Chicago, where he bought the drugstore he’d briefly worked in. It might surprise you to learn that Charles Walgreens original store was fourteen times smaller than the company’s stores today.
A New Dawn
Armed with his ambition, enthusiasm, and creative business mind, Charles Rudolph made a strategic move by venturing into drug manufacturing. And this strategic move was the very way Charles ensured he delivered high-quality products at lower prices to his customers. In 1916, with only nine stores, Charles R. Walgreen Sr. incorporated his company.
But it doesn’t end with the incorporation because in 1922, during the prohibition era, he took the non-pharmaceutical route, built an ice cream factory, and created his most iconic product, the malted milkshake. The malted milkshake performed so well with its target audience that in four years it helped the company secure its 100th store in Chicago.
Why Is It Called Walgreen?
To understand how Walgreen got its name, we’d have to travel back to the 9th of October 1873 when Charles Rudolph Walgreen Sr., Walgreens’ founder, was born to the Family of Carl Magnus Olofsson, a Swedish-American immigrant.
And one of Carl’s Swedish histories was the Wahlgrens’ name. A name that’d first been used by Sven Olofsson, Charles’s third great-grandfather, during his military service in the 1790s for his homeland, something his family took great pride in.
So it didn’t surprise us that Carl Magnus Olofsson, on arrival to America—the land of freedom, and golden opportunities—took up his family’s prestigious name, Wahlgren. Perhaps to symbolize a conquest and a new beginning for his family.
Interestingly, the Walgreen name was borne by six families within 1880 and 1920 in the US alone.
And when the time came for Charles to name his e-commerce company, he represented his brand with his family’s reputable name and to prove how powerful the Walgreens name is; the company hasn’t undergone a rebrand over a century since it was created. Not to mention that it became the official surname of the family since the time of Charles.
The decision of Charles Rudolph Walgreen Sr. to use his family’s name as the name of his business was a step in the right direction because it made it easier for his business to stand out in the market.
Today, Walgreens is a successful company worth billions because customers didn’t just see it as a company, they saw Walgreens as a person, a brand, they could trust with their health needs.
Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp–transforming the way names are developed by combining an affordable agency-level brainstorming process with the unmatched creativity of “the crowd.”