Retail News Breaks Archives
Industry mourns passing of USA Drug founder Steve LaFrance
June 6th, 2013
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Stephen LaFrance Sr., who built a regional drug store powerhouse with USA Drug, has died. He was 71.
Published reports said LaFrance passed away of natural causes at his home in Pine Bluff on Wednesday.
LaFrance started USA Drug in 1968 when he opened a single store in Pine Bluff. Eventually, the drug chain would include nearly 200 stores in six states, operating under a variety of different banners.
He was the company's chief executive officer until 2006 when he handed over USA Drugs' day-to-day operations to Joe Courtright. LaFrance remained active in the company, however, serving as it chairman.
When he sold the company — officially called Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings Inc. — to Walgreen Co. last July for $438 million, it operated 144 stores under the USA Drug, Super D Drug, May's Drug, Med-X and Drug Warehouse names in Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
LaFrance said that when he decided to sell his company after more than 40 years in business, he picked Walgreens because he felt it would carry on what USA Drug had started.
"We chose to sell our business to Walgreens not only because it is the premier drug store company in our industry, but also because Walgreens will continue to provide our customers with the service and products they have come to expect," LaFrance said when the deal was announced last summer.