Wednesday, May 26, 2010

World's Most Unusual Drug Store

 Webb's City was the brainchild of James Earl "Doc" Webb. He bought into the St. Petersburg, Florida drug store in 1925, and within a year he had bought out his business partner. At that time, he changed the name of the store to Webb's Cut Rate Drug Store. Webb kept his prices low and his business actually thrived during the Great Depression. He used his profits to expand his business, buying up everything around it, until he eventually owned seventy stores covering 7 blocks. As the business expanded, Webbs didn't just sell drugs; he also sold hardware, furniture, clothing, and provided services such as haircuts, dry cleaning, and dance lessons. At one point, he had an average of over 60,000 customers per day!

Doc Webb used clever gimmicks to attract customers, including special attractions like mermaids, chimpanzees, and shooting the flying Zacchinis out of a cannon in the parking lot. At one point he even had a limited-time offer of dollar bills for sale at 95 cents. The gimmicks worked for a long time, but eventually lost their effectiveness. Doc Webb sold out in 1974, and the business declared bankruptcy in 1979.

In 1949, Norma was toiling away at the Victoria Paper Mill in Fulton, new York when she received a postcard from Millie, who wrote:
Dear Norma,
You really should take a vacation here. It is hot but wonderful. Getting a nice tan. Pop's really enjoying it too. 


  1. Wow - dollar bills for 95 cents! Do you think Doc gave away the postcard or did Millie purchase it? It's hard to imagine many people choosing to buy a postcard advertising a store - even if it is the world's most unusual.

  2. Perhaps if he'd shot the MERMAIDS out of the cannon, he'd still be in business. Who wouldn't pay to see THAT?!

  3. Webb's really became a full-on Florida attraction... I wish I had seen it!

  4. Tracy, thanks for reminding me that I need to do a mermaid post. Coming soon...



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