Company history
A typical Walgreens Pharmacy.
The Walgreens chain began in 1901, with a drug store on the corner of Bowen Ave and Cottage Grove, Chicago, Illinois, United States owned by Galesburg native Charles R. Walgreen, Sr. By 1915, there were five Walgreen drugstores. He added several improvements to the stores such as soda fountains and luncheon service. He also began to make his own line of drug products and was then able to control the quality of the items and sell them at lower prices. By 1916, 19 stores were in operation, all in Chicago. And in that same year, all the stores were consolidated under Walgreen Co. The 1920s was a very successful decade for Walgreens. In 1921, the company opened stores outside of residential areas and also introduced the malted milk shake in 1922. Walgreens also established its very own ice cream manufacturing plants to match the demand for ice cream at that time. By the mid 1920s, there were about 65 stores with an annual sale of 1.2 million dollars. By this time, Walgreens had expanded into other states like Wisconsin, Missouri, and Minnesota. By 1930, there were 397 stores in 87 cities with annual sales of 4 million dollars. The company did not really suffer from the Stock Market Crash and Great Depression. By 1934, Walgreens was operating in 33 states with over 600 stores. After Charles Walgreen Sr. died, his son Charles R. Walgreen Jr. took over and ran the chain until his retirement. The Charles R. Walgreen Jr. years were relatively prosperous, but lacked the massive expansion seen in the early part of the company. Charles "Cork" R. Walgreen III took over after Jr's retirement in the early 1970s, and brought the company through many modern initiatives, including the switch to a computer inventory based system (bar code scanning). The Walgreen family was not involved in senior management of the company for a short period following Charles' retirement. In 1986, it acquired the MediMart chain from Stop & Shop. In 1995, Kevin P. Walgreen was made a vice-president and promoted to Senior Vice President - Store Operations in 2006.
On July 12, 2006, David Bernauer stepped down as CEO of Walgreens and was replaced by company president, Jeff Rein. Holding degrees in accounting and pharmacy from the University of Arizona, Rein was a pharmacist, store manager, district manager, and treasurer prior to being named Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board. Greg Wasson, former President of Walgreens Health Services, was named President and Chief Operations Officer.
On October 10, 2008, Jeff Rein retired from Walgreens and was replaced by Alan G. McNally as Chairman and Acting CEO.
On January 26, 2009, Gregory Wasson was named CEO, effective February 1, 2009.
 Recent expansion
The 1,000th Walgreens store, located at the intersection of Dearborn and Division in Chicago, opened at 9:00 a.m. on September 6, 1984. The ribbon cutting ceremony was presided over by Illinois Governor James R. Thompson and the movie legend Cary Grant. Walgreens opened its 3000th store in Chicago in 2000; its 4000th store in Van Nuys, California, in 2003; its 5000th store in Richmond, Virginia, in October 2005; and its 6000th store in New Orleans, Louisiana, in October 2007.
Walgreens opened its first store in Hawaii in late 2007, with plans to open 25 to 30 more.
In 2003, Walgreens purchased 16 locations of the Hi-School Pharmacy stores, including the original Hi-School Pharmacy in Vancouver, Washington, and converted them to Walgreens. In 2006, Walgreens acquired the Happy Harry's chain in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.
Walgreens plans to open its first stores in Alaska in 2009; its opening would give Walgreens at least one store in all 50 states.
With the notable exceptions above, Walgreens's expansion differs from that of its competitors CVS/pharmacy and Rite Aid, in that Walgreens usually expands by opening new...
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