If you had just moved to the brand new suburb of Hoffman Estates, where would you go for bubble gum, Cover Girl makeup, tubes for your TV set and a quick lunch out? One place only. Snyder’s Hoffman Drug store. Planned as part of the Hoffman Plaza Shopping Center at Higgins and Roselle Roads, the drug store’s grand opening was in mid-June of 1959—and couldn’t have happened fast enough for the shoppers of Hoffman Estates. According to LaVonne Presley, who was a new employee, the day was a huge success with many giveaway items for children and their mothers. In fact it was so busy, the employees didn’t get a break!
Snyder’s was built as a branch of Snyder’s Roselle Drugs and was originally a Rexall drug store. Their first Hoffman phone number was TWinbrook4-3436. It was co-owned by Frank Snyder and Dr. Donald Lloyd from Roselle who was very “hands-on.” LaVonne said, He kept a close check on the receipts and would determine which bills would be paid each day.”
The store was guaranteed to be immediately popular with the new Jewel Food Store in the same shopping center. The women in Parcel A, B and C of Hoffman Estates were in such close proximity they would often put their children in strollers and walk to the shopping center.
The attractions of the drug store certainly weren’t lost on the kids either. The toy aisle was enticing, especially during the Christmas season of 1959, when the first Barbie doll dressed in a black and white swimsuit made its retail debut. Another big draw was the large candy counter and a nut machine that had fresh nuts warmed by a heat lamp. Eby Brown from Elgin was the supplier of the candy (and, possibly, the cartons of cigarettes.) Bubble gum was a favorite and the cashiers got to keep the prizes found in the large boxes of loose wrapped gum. LaVonne was lucky enough to get a set of silverware with black handles as a result.
For the women LaVonne notes that there was a good selection of quality costume jewelry, perfumes and hair dyes. In addition, when OB/GYNs, Dr. Howell and Dr. Bloodgood, opened their offices in the shopping center, the store was readily available for prescriptions.
On the opposite side of the coin, the men loved the store for purchasing gifts for their wives. Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries were a good reason to stop in and buy a quick gift. The store helped them finish the process by supplying gift wrapping as a perk!
When paying for purchases, a customer could choose one of two cash registers on each side of the check-out island. If, by chance, the electricity went out, the cash registers were not unusable. They could, instead, be cranked by hand! Per LaVonne, the customers could also “charge” their purchase. Salespeople would write the purchase on a carbon-copy counter top register. The customer would get the copy and the original was given to the bookkeeper who kept a file for each family that used the system. Bills for the month would be sent to each family. If non-payment occurred, this led to phone calls from the bookkeeper, the store manager or Dr. Lloyd, the co-owner of the store.
With Jewel so close, there was no need to carry milk and bread the way Walgreens and CVS do today. The store was a draw for those with cameras though. They contracted with a service that developed and printed photos. LaVonne also said, “many customers came in with a bag of ‘tubes’ from their TV sets to try them out on a testing machine. New TV tubes were stored under lock and key in the cabinet under the tester.”
When built, the store not only provided general merchandise and a pharmacy, but also had a light lunch counter where sandwiches and drinks were served. Truckers driving Higgins Road and construction workers from F & S, the local developer, favored the counter. According to LaVonne, the small restaurant had great pies and “the lunch counter manager made sure that there were many worker friendly specials.” In March 1961, however, despite the fact that there were many days when people would be waiting for a seat, the lunch counter was taken out to make room for more merchandise. In a Daily Herald article from March 9, 1961, “Manager Robert Semmens…said it was difficult to keep walls of the counter area clean with the cooking of hamburgers and that a coke machine would be installed in the drug store this week.”
Sometime after 1965, the store moved across the street to the Golf Rose Shopping Center. By this time the store was affiliated with Walgreens and was known as a “Walgreen Agency.” It was a much larger space of 10,000 square feet. Hot items in the store, according to Nick Flocco, store manager, were “gifts, seasonal items, school supplies, stationery, cosmetics and a good-sized toy department.” One of the other perks that the store provided was delivering prescriptions. This lasted for as long as the store was open–which might not have been long considering the Service Merchandise in the same shopping center caught fire just as it was getting ready to open!
In relating a bit of the store history, Mr. Flocco said Donald Nickels, the store manager retired in 1971 and, from 1971 to 1978, when the store closed, Mr. Flocco served as the store manager. Dr. Lloyd, one of the owners passed away shortly before the closing.
Another store was opened in 1972 in Schaumburg Plaza on west Schaumburg Road to expand the business’ coverage just a bit more. This store was owned by Mr. Flocco, Mr. Snyder and the pharmacist’s widow. Mr. Snyder sold his portion in 1987 to Mark Drugs Group. The business, itself, was eventually sold to Dominicks in 2000, having provided years of pharmacy experience as well as good shopping.
Do you have any additional memories of Snyder Hoffman Drugs? It had to have been a big draw for the kids in the area when it first opened. Maybe you’re remembering something we’ve forgotten to mention? If so, let us know!
Much appreciation is given to LaVonne Presley for supplying such detailed memories of that first store in Hoffman Plaza as well as the scan of the calendar in this post. She was employed by Snyder Hoffman Drug in the summers from 1959 to 1961 as a checker and from 1962 to 1963 in bookkeeping. Nick Flocco, current co-owner of Mark Drugs Pharmacy in Roselle, has graciously provided the details on the Golf Rose store as well as the dates and names of major store events.