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Found in the Hy-Lo in 1970
March 23, 2012 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Photo set: drugstore shelves (1970).
posted by jjray (38 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't see any birth control products. Speaking selfishly that's a good thing, since I was born in late 1970.
posted by jonmc at 7:07 PM on March 23, 2012


Thanks for this. A trip in a time machine would be incomplete without going into a few stores to comb their shelves.

Disclaimer - jjray is my husband so I might be completely biased.
posted by helloknitty at 7:09 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is so great! Look at how GIANT those boxes of maxi pads are!

Modern ladies, be ever so grateful for the invention of whatever magic substance is in today's ultra-thin pads. I remember the inch-thick pads of yore.
posted by ErikaB at 7:16 PM on March 23, 2012


Except for a few fonts (and the radios) these are indistinguishable from drugstores of today.
posted by DU at 7:16 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good god, all those fat-bottom bottles with the long, skinny necks!

I think the last holdout of that trend was Head & Shoulders. I think the Scope people tried to bring that back recently, but I don't know if it took.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:19 PM on March 23, 2012


Good god, all those fat-bottom bottles with the long, skinny necks!

I think Queen had a song about those bottles.
posted by Forktine at 7:23 PM on March 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Transistor radios, film, flash bulbs, walkie talkies, Polaroid cameras... there's an aisle to make you feel old.
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 7:39 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The good old days. 3 types of toothpaste and 2 types of toothbrushes. Now those items alone take an entire aisle. Tarter control baking soda whitening sensitive gum gell with patented microshittecrystalls.
posted by couchdive at 7:39 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except for a few fonts (and the radios) these are indistinguishable from drugstores of today.

There are the arched sign-holders holding tastefully saturated hued circles which proclaimed which patent remedy or which hair-treatment hid down this aisle or that. The bright orange stickers on the shelf edges telling us this substance was this many dollars per ounce, or that many dollars per pill. Other than that, holy shit, this is the CVS up the street! Totally!
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:47 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, you know, I don't know why I even said that about the bottles. There's like two of those bottles in the whole thing.

Still...!
posted by Sys Rq at 7:53 PM on March 23, 2012


1970s drugstore smell. Mmmmmmm ...
posted by elmwood at 8:06 PM on March 23, 2012


Yeah, why do all drugstores smell exactly alike? The CVS smells like the Walgreens smells like the Rite-Aid. What is UP with that.
posted by not_on_display at 8:09 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


elmwood: What is that smell? I didn't start smelling stuff until the eighties. I'm kind of assuming that it smelled like burning caramel, but that's because I'm an idiot.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 8:11 PM on March 23, 2012


I like how the Internet always gives you things that show you why living in a time with the Internet is so much better than living in a time without it. It's like a cult, really.
posted by four panels at 8:11 PM on March 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow! This is great! There is actually more variety here than I thought there would be. I thought it would be more like Gladwell's "Ketchup Conundrum" article, with only 2 or 3 choices for certain products.

Whoa, can you imagine how much money someone could get on the black (orange?) market from stealing all those enormous boxes of Tide!!!
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 8:13 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those little plastic numbers that slotted into the edge of the shelf! Which for some reason remind me of those "digital" clock radios where the numbers flipped.

I love shit like this.
posted by scratch at 8:40 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know if I am surprised or not, to see some items with exactly the same packaging today as in 1970.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:47 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The cosmetics display is my favorite. All of the eyes from the mascara packaging staring at you makes for a rather creepy effect.
posted by horsemuth at 9:04 PM on March 23, 2012


Jesus H. Douche Syringes!
posted by padraigin at 9:17 PM on March 23, 2012


I don't know why i love this so much.
posted by chococat at 9:23 PM on March 23, 2012


Nice! Add shots of the vacuum tube and battery testers that are almost certainly in the front of the store and it would have been perfect.
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:09 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right on! I bought my first condoms at the Owl Rexall on Telegraph in Berkeley.

Also, going to get 10 cent ice cream scoops at Thrifty Drugs with my parents... I remember once my mom's scoop fell out of her cone and onto the hundred degree sidewalk and 6 year old me thought it was so sad I still get fullness in my throat today thinking about it now.

(as if there were any doubt,) Today, I am officially an old man.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:28 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Today, I am officially an old man.

If it makes you feel any better, when I used to pedal my Stingray (with a pink sparkle vinyl banana seat) down to the Thrifty, ice cream was 5 cents a scoop.
posted by jamaro at 11:05 PM on March 23, 2012


If you are a designer or researcher, you can visit GfK Custom Research North America's collection of over 100000 packaged goods, featuring designs from all over the world from the last 50 years or so (via core77). The rest of us will have to make do with the disappointing flash tour.

But there is also Andreas Gursky.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:13 PM on March 23, 2012


Most every Sunday afternoon we went to Britling's Cafeteria and dad had a veal cutlet and mon ate liver & onions. I had the child's portion hamburger steak and brown gravy with mashed potatoes and green beans and milk from a waxed paper carton. Next door to Britling's was Alley's Drug Store.

I had a whopping $3 to spend on anything I wanted and that half-hour in Alley's was something I looked forward to every week. Would it be candy? Comic books? Maybe I'd splash out and get a new Hot Wheels from the toy aisle! I'd positively vibrate with indecision while my parents chatted up the pharmacist and the bored teenage girl working the cash register.

Alley's had a whole aisle that was a kid's wonderland. Candy as far as the eye could see. Bubblegum, chocolate bars, cardboard boxes overflowing with hard candies that glittered like buried treasure beneath those fluorescent lights. Three whole spinner racks of comic books: one for Marvel and DC, one for Archie and Mad Magazine and one for Cracked and Eerie and Fangoria and Famous Monsters of Filmland and Today's Modern Edition of The New Testament and The Good News Bible.

Eventually Dad would bark that it was time to go and I needed to make up my damn mind and they'd drag me out and I'd spend Sunday afternoon reading the latest adventures of Thor and the Fantastic Four and eating cinnamon hard candies until my teeth hurt.

I recently cleaned out my parent's house and found a whole cache of expired prescriptions that mom, for whatever reason, had never thrown out. Some dated back to the 70s. Yellowed labels from Alley's Drug Store.

I tasted cinnamon and smelled cheap ink on pulp paper and wished I had a hamburger steak with brown gravy and another Sunday afternoon with my mom and dad.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:10 AM on March 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


And, you know, I don't know why I even said that about the bottles. There's like two of those bottles in the whole thing.

Aggh. After I read your comment about the bottles I went back and forth and back and forth through all the photos for about 5 minutes trying to find them. I thought I was just too dumb to see them all.
posted by Justinian at 12:46 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most every Sunday afternoon we went to Britling's Cafeteria

We did too! Maybe we sat at nearby tables, BOP! Maybe you were in line just ahead of me!

Their blueberry muffins rocked my childhood culinary world.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:51 AM on March 24, 2012


I think the shampoo aisle alone in most contemporary drug stores is larger than that entire store. And yet I use the same brand I have for decades.
posted by tommasz at 5:26 AM on March 24, 2012


Those shelves piled full of film...mmmmmmmm...soooo many choices. sweet memories.
(reminds me of my favorite film store in college...the side-by-side mountains of Kodak and Ilford, battling for my attention. And the smaller pile of that upstart Fugi stuff looking so...interesting.)
posted by Thorzdad at 6:10 AM on March 24, 2012


I'm with Slap*Happy - it looks exactly like a drugstore today. I was thinking about it last night and I thought, you know, I'd like to look at some pictures of a 1930 drugstore. I bet - although I don't know - that a 1930 drugstore would be damn near unrecognizable to us and, even more interestingly, it would have been almost as inscrutable to our parents in 1970.

Well, I did look. This is what I found and yeah, it's completely different. It seems to me that the big changes, the ones that make our world recognizable, came between 1930 and 1970. Since then, the framework has remained the same. This is not to say that the world hasn't changed in the last 40 years but that those changes are less, maybe, immediately recognizable than they were in the previous 40 years. The biggest change, really, since 1970 that you could see in a photograph of a drugstore today are threefold: bar codes, cell phones and that new adjunct to cell phones, QR codes. If you pull away those three things and make the store smaller (the gigantization is another change since 1970) you'd be in the same place.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:13 AM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here's a picture (from 1970!) of the outside of the drug store we went to when I was a kid. It was right across the street from St. Margret's church so we'd walk over and get snacks after mass. Nate Shalit, the pharmacist was the brother of the movie critic Gene Shalit.

When did drug stores lose the lunch counters? Shalit's had the classic lunch counter with lots of chrome and awesome milkshakes.
posted by octothorpe at 8:21 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the big changes, the ones that make our world recognizable, came between 1930 and 1970.

Really the big change is self-service. I'd say the other changes (like bar codes and 'gigantization') are all consequences of that idea.

I suspect that one could make a good case that the self-service concept we're familiar with today is itself a consequence of the age of the automobile. Self-service is really about exploiting efficiencies of scale, but that works only when one can get the scale. Automobiles make that much more likely.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:53 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


What amazed me are the prices, adjusted for inflation. A tube of Crest at .69 would equate to $4.13 today. That's not too far off the mark, but a clock radio that sold for $59.95 then (on the top shelf, and on sale) would cost $358.86.

That said, you can walk into a modern drug store and buy a clock radio for less than $30. Of course the labor to produce today's imported product is probably even less than it was in 1970.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:54 AM on March 24, 2012


When did drug stores lose the lunch counters? Shalit's had the classic lunch counter with lots of chrome and awesome milkshakes.

My guess is that the malts and phosphates were phased out around the time people realized, hey, maybe having all these teenagers hanging around just a few feet away from a huge cache of uppers, downers, and prescription LSD-25 is not the greatest idea in the world.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:23 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was fascinated by these photos, yet filled with a vague sense of dread. I finally figured out why:

Part 1

Part 2
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:25 PM on March 24, 2012


I don't even live in JP any more, but man, I miss Hi-Lo.
posted by shushufindi at 12:44 PM on March 24, 2012


I don't see any birth control products

You do, but you don't know that's what they are. The million different varieties of douching implements were bought as (ineffective, but) birth control devices as much as (counterproductive, but) hygiene devices.

The condoms were kept behind the counter in those days. And birth control pills and diaphragms were prescription-only, as they are today.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:00 PM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


American drugstores look fascinating to me, as they seem to sell so much we don' have in our chemist/pharmacies - radios, washing powder, ice-creams.

What is the 'Lilt' stuff - perm lotion for children?
posted by mippy at 4:56 AM on March 26, 2012


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