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Thrifty PayLess Holdings, Inc. was a pharmacy holding company that owned the Thrifty Drugs and PayLess Drug Store chains in the western United Statesmarker.

The combined company was formed in April 1994 when Los Angeles-based TCH Corporation, the parent company of Thrifty Corporation and Thrifty Drug Stores, Inc., acquired the Kmart subsidiary PayLess Northwest, Inc.

At the time of the merger, TCH Corporation was renamed Thrifty PayLess Holdings, Inc. and Thrifty operated 495 stores, PayLess operated 543 stores.

In 1998, Rite Aid acquired and the 1,000-store west coast chain's owner Thrifty PayLess Holdings re-branded it as Rite Aid, creating a chain with over 3,500 drug stores.

History of PayLess

Peyton Hawes and William Armitage acquired a controlling interest in five drug stores in three communities in Oregon and Washington, which were named PayLess, and grew their chain through both acquisition and internal expansion. By 1984 PayLess Drug Stores was the largest independently owned and operated drug store chain in the United States. It became a wholly owned unit of Kmart in 1985, as part of the Kmart expansion program created by CEO Joseph Antonini. In 1986, there were 225 PayLess stores. Between 1986 and 1988, it attempted a strategy of creating PayLess Wonder World stores in select Kmart, Value Giant, and former TG&Y locations in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico; these stores lacked pharmacies at first, but included other sundries at discount prices. The PayLess Wonder World chain peaked at 16 stores, and they were eventually reverted back to PayLess stores. By 1990 PayLess operated in nine western states. Today, a new Payless Drugs, (using a similar logo to the prior PayLess), operates as a long-term healthcare pharmacy but does not operate retail stores.


History of Thrifty

In 1919, brothers Harry and Robert Borun, with brother-in-law Norman Levin founded Borun Brothers a Los Angeles, Californiamarker drug wholesaler. In 1929, they opened their own retail outlets under the name Thrifty Cut Rate in Los Angeles, Californiamarker.

By 1942, Thrifty Drug Stores had 58 stores.

A neon Thrifty drug store sign is visible in the background of a scene from the 1954 Judy Garland version of A Star Is Born.

During the 1950s, a Thrifty commercial jingle was heard on numerous radio stations in Southern California:

"Save a nickel, save a dime.

Save at Thrifty every time.

Save a dollar and much more,

at your Thrifty Drug Store!"

Until the early 1980s, every Thrifty store featured a tube tester, usually located near the cosmetics display case. There was still a wide variety of tube-type and hybrid tube/transistor consumer electronics in use, and the local Thrifty store was a convenient place to test TV and radio tubes and purchase replacements. Thrifty also published a brochure which showed various malfunctioning TV presentations and suggested which section's tube or tubes might be the problem. The brochure also provided numbered stickers to aid consumers in making sure that the good tubes went back into the same sockets in their equipment.

By the late-1980s, Thrifty Drug stores acquired Pay 'n Save, Sportswest stores (converted to Big 5), Bi-Mart, and Price Savers Wholesale Club warehouses from the Pay 'n Save corporation.

In Washington State, Thrifty went by the name of Giant T since the Thrifty name was in use by another chain of drug stores. The name was later changed to Thrifty in 1984. Later all Thrifty stores in Washington state were renamed to Pay 'n Save after the acquisition.

The Thrifty name and logo live on at Rite Aid, as Thrifty Ice Cream is still sold in the West Coast Rite Aid locations, both by the half-gallon carton and by the famous single, double or triple dip cone. The Thrifty brand of ice cream was retained because it had won several important awards in its history. Thrifty Ice Cream is also sold at ice cream shops around Californiamarker. The ice cream is manufactured at the Thrifty creamery in El Monte, Californiamarker

Thrifty Ice Cream is popular in part because of its inexpensive prices. The Rite Aid drug stores have an ice cream counter that is built for serving Thrifty Ice Cream. The scoops are notable because of their unusual almost square shape.

The ice cream comes in several flavors. A partial list is:

  • Cherry Chocolate Chip
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Butter Pecan
  • Chocolate Malted Crunch
  • Vanilla
  • French Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Strawberry Cheesecake
  • Medieval Madness
  • Pistachio
  • Rocky Road
  • Mint Chip


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