WINDSOR, Ontario — Tony Crncich, co-founder of Ontario pharmacy chain Big V Drug Stores, passed away last week at age 87.
Crncich, who launched Big V in Windsor, Ontario, 55 years ago with partner Mahlon Dyer, died on Oct. 18, the Windsor Star reported.
After studying pharmacy at the University of Toronto, Crncich started his career at Pond’s Drug Store in Windsor — which later became part of Big V — and later opened his first pharmacy, Lakeview Pharmacy in Tecumseh, Ontario, in 1956, according to the Windsor Star report.
Crncich and his friend Dyer acquired four stores and then decided to assemble an independent pharmacy group to better compete with chains. That led to the founding of Big V, which began with 11 stores in 1962.
The chain expanded steadily, fueled in part by one of Crncich’s innovations: Getting provincial regulatory approval to enable the retailer to keep the front end of stores open after pharmacy hours, the Windsor Star report said. Other Big V innovations included Sunday hours and locating stores in neighborhoods rather than just in shopping malls.
At its peak, London, Ontario-based Big V had 135 stores in the province. Crncich and Dyer sold the chain for $243 million (Canadian) in 1995 to Imasco Ltd.’s Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy unit.