Viewed from almost any perspective, December 13, 2023, was a significant day in the history of mass retailing in America.
On that day, to informally recognize the 90th anniversary of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, America’s mass retailing community gathered together a not-so-random sampling of the individuals who created, advanced and immortalized health care retailing in this country during the past century.
To attempt to summarize the events or the luminaries that made the celebration so memorable would be all but impossible. Here, however, is a random sampling of the day’s activities and the attendees who made the event well worth remembering:
• Walmart’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, launched the party by welcoming the guests, congratulating NACDS on its anniversary, and lauding the accomplishments that mass retailing, and especially its health care component, has made in improving the health of the U.S. population over the past 90 years.
• Todd Kwait, son of the legendary retail executive Bob, produced a 10-minute video that accurately paid homage to the industry and the leaders who shaped that industry.
• Kroger Health president Colleen Lindholz and Haleon North America president Lisa Paley looked both backward and forward, recounting the industry’s achievements while bemoaning the dearth of women and minorities participating in those achievements.
• Stefano Pessina, a major player in both Walgreens and Boots, journeyed from Europe to offer his congratulations to NACDS and laud the progress mass retailing made during the 20th century in bringing affordable health care to the world’s population.
• Such industry legends as Dave Maher, Chris Bodine, Alan Levin, Harvey Rosenthal, Larry Merlo, John Standley, George Bartell and others too numerous to mention joined the party, with Maher, who once stood at the pinnacle of our industry, remarking that travel had become more difficult since he retired. Others echoed that sentiment.
• Outgoing Costco CEO Craig Jelinek offered a video congratulating the association, adding his appreciation to the accolades already much in evidence during the program.
• Such supplier luminaries as Barb Hartman (who is engaged to be married), Jack Hall, Arnie Zimmerman, Scott Emerson (a co-host of the day’s activities), Frank Gibson and others too numerous to mention showed up, each convinced, in his or her own way, that the mass retailing community would not have survived had they not been there at the creation.
• Scott Melville, head of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, delivered a presentation lauding the role the industry associations played in the industry’s development, and such association luminaries as Ron Ziegler, Jim Whitman and, most significantly, Steve Anderson were singled out for praise and recognition.
In summary, December 13 was a memorable date, especially in its success in recognizing, one more time, the extraordinary achievements of those individuals who combined to make mass retailing the industry it has become.