TBT: Whatever Happened to Wellby Super Drugs Stores in Maine?
For almost 20 years, Wellby Super Drug, a locally owned drug store chain with locations throughout Maine, flourished. Then suddenly they were gone. Whatever happened to Wellby Super Drug?
If you grew up in the 70's or 80's you probably remember Wellby Super Drug. The name was a play on "be well" and was owned by Hannaford Brothers Company. Wellby's was often found next to Shop 'n Save grocery stores in towns all over Maine and New Hampshire. Shop 'n Save was the brand name of Hannaford's grocery stores until the late 1990s, so it made sense to put their drug store nearby.
In the Oxford Hills where I grew up, Wellby's was in the Oxford Plaza just around the corner from Shop 'n Save, so people would do their grocery shopping and then go pick up their prescriptions next door.
In 1990, Mainers went to the polls and voted to repeal Maine's blue law that forced stores over 5000 square feet to close on Sundays. This changed the landscape for drug stores in Maine. Now that Shop 'n Save stores could be open on Sunday's, it made more sense for the grocery stores to incorporate a pharmacy and Wellby's became redundant. Hannaford sold Wellby's to Rite Aid in 1992.
LaVerdiere's, another popular Maine drug store chain couldn't compete. Their stores were specifically designed to be 5000 feet or less so that they could be open on Sunday, and the repeal made it difficult for them to compete with Hannaford's 'Super Shop 'n Save' stores that included a pharmacy. They also ended up selling to Rite Aid in 1994.
25 years later, there are no signs of either drug store, except for still standing buildings with Rite Aid or new businesses occupying them. All that remains of Wellby's Super Drug is a paper bag for sale on Etsy. It can be yours for just $6.