Expansion & Going Public

The Growth of Arbor Drugs Continues

Going Public

In April of 1986, Arbor Drugs went public, and the growth did not stop there. Eugene expanded his territory, acquiring Sentry Drug Stores and continued to build his business on the solid foundation he had laid. 

“Not only did Gene go out and hand select every store that we opened, he also had a good talent for hiring people,” Gil Gerhard, said. “He put the right people in the right positions and pretty much let them run their departments. He had an open door policy; we could walk in any day at any time and discuss whatever you wanted with him.”

Teaching the details 

Gene would always say the retail business is 20% strategy and 80% execution. Arbor Drug stores became known for exceptional quality and outstanding customer service. They were always clean and well stocked. “Mr. Applebaum surrounded himself with good, hardworking people that he could trust,” Cindy Kopp, longstanding employee of Arbor Drugs and Arbor Investment Group said. “He was the ultimate teacher. He would let me sit in his office and listen in on business calls because he wanted me to learn how to handle things.”

“Gene is an entrepreneur. He has great business instincts and an enthusiasm for the business. It’s because of him that Arbor was incredibly successful."
-Gil Gerhard

Arbor introduced private label products and became a leader in that sector of the business. Gene adhered to the philosophy of slow growth for high earnings, never closing a store or laying off an employee.

Time of Rapid Expansion

By 1993, Arbor had grown to 133 stores, and in 1997, 200 stores and record earnings. By 1998, just before the merger with CVS, Arbor was ranked the 8th largest drugstore chain with 50% market share in Michigan, 208 stores and more than $1 billion in annual sales. “He built this dream on his own, really,” Reaume reflected. “He had a dream and he made it come true. He went from being a pharmacist, to owning one store, to over 200 stores.”

Eugene and Marcia Applebaum at the Arbor Drugs 25th Anniversary Dinner

Over the years, Arbor was named “Regional Chain of the Year” numerous times by Drug Store News. Financial World Magazine acknowledged Gene as “CEO of the Year” and in 1998, Drug Store News inducted him into the Retail Hall of Honors.

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