Night shot of the most updated Eckerd prototype, built in 2005. Note the neon "Welcome to Eckerd" inside the store. I believe this is still up at that location.
According to the history, Eckerd was the oldest chain drug store, founded in Pennsylvania in 1898. It was its expansion into Florida (yes, even store chains are snowbirds) that led to its eventually wide coverage along the eastern seaboard. In its final days, Eckerd was a major player against CVS, but lost the battle as the weakest contender against the return of Walgreen's after an almost 40 year hiatus in the Peach State.
This store came full circle. Rite-Aid originally built this store in Woodstock in the late 1990's, then abandoned their expansion plans in Atlanta. The store sat abandoned for awhile until Eckerd bought it and made it theirs. Not long after, here comes Rite-Aid about to take it back!
This store in Dahlonega was a typical late 1990's design built at the intersection of the by-pass and business routes of SR 9.
The final days of Eckerd were a rash of mergers after JCPenney had pretty well wiped out the chain. JCPenney seems to have been notoriously bad at managing off-store concepts, judging from their earlier failure with Treasure Island and Treasury Drugs. Eckerd survived for awhile under ownership of Jean Coutu Group, owner of the Canadian Brooks chain. It was noted that many store brands in Eckerd were actually labeled as Brooks/Eckerd.
Rite-Aid had been a strong player in the South, but was held out of the major markets by too stiff of competition. While very common in the smaller towns, it did not exist in the Atlanta market. In the late 1990's, Rite-Aid attempted to expand into the Atlanta area, but after building several free standing locations, instead ironically sold them to Eckerd after they sat vacant for several years. Rite-Aid came back in full force, however, in late 2007 with the change official in June and the conversion completed by the end of summer, and Eckerd is now a memory, ending a wild rash of consolidations that started in 2004.
These days, the future of Rite-Aid looks shaky from the purchase of Eckerd's. Rite-Aid's acquisition did not exactly turn around this white elephant of a drug store chain from what I have heard. Let's hope that is not the case, because the retail scene is already looking to be one full of carcasses with the current state of the economy.