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Stanley P. Goldstein: The Visionary Behind CVS’s Retail Empire

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Stanley P. Goldstein: The Visionary Behind CVS’s Retail Empire

Edited by: TJVNews.com

Stanley P. Goldstein, a pioneering entrepreneur who co-founded Consumer Value Stores (CVS) and transformed it into the largest drugstore chain in the United States, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Providence, Rhode Island. He was 89. A New York Times report indicated that the company, headquartered in Rhode Island, confirmed his death, and family members informed The Providence Journal that the cause was cancer, diagnosed just a month ago.

Born on June 5, 1934, in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Stanley Goldstein was one of four sons of Israel and Etta (Halpern) Goldstein. The NYT report noted that the family lived in a triple-decker, a common type of housing for working-class immigrants in New England. This upbringing instilled in Goldstein a strong work ethic and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by ordinary families.

He graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1955. Initially, he showed little interest in the retail sector, having witnessed the demanding nature of the business through his father, Israel Goldstein, as was noted in the NYT report. Instead, Stanley pursued a career as a stockbroker, seeking a different path from the family business.

The turning point came with the death of Israel Goldstein. Stanley’s brother, Sidney Goldstein, persuaded him to take over their father’s struggling enterprise. The NYT report explained that their father’s business had started by selling bags and paper products to grocery stores and had expanded to include various health and beauty aids, strategically displayed near cash registers.

In the early 1960s, Goldstein, his brother Sidney, and Ralph Hoagland, a Harvard Business School graduate with experience at Procter & Gamble, devised a novel approach, the NYT report affirmed. They envisioned a stand-alone store dedicated to discount personal care items, a concept that was both innovative and timely.

The first Consumer Value Store opened in Lowell, Massachusetts, a low-income neighborhood where residents would appreciate the opportunity to purchase essential items at reduced prices. The NYT report said that the store featured a sign encouraging customers to bag their own purchases to save even more money, an early example of the customer-centric strategies that would become a hallmark of CVS.

Following the success of the first store, a second location was opened in Haverhill, Massachusetts. To trim costs, the company soon abbreviated its name to CVS. “All those letters cost a lot of money, so we shortened it to CVS,” Stanley Goldstein explained in a 2017 interview with The Providence Journal, as was reported by the NYT.

The innovative model proved highly successful, and the chain rapidly expanded. By 1969, CVS had grown to 42 stores, including the first locations with pharmacies, marking a significant evolution in its service offerings, the report in the NYT said. That same year, the company was sold to the Melville Corporation, a retail conglomerate that included Thom McAn shoes, K-B Toys, and Marshalls discount clothing.

Under Stanley Goldstein’s leadership, CVS underwent significant expansion. In the early years, the founders made a strategic decision to shorten the company’s name to CVS, a move Goldstein attributed to the cost savings on signage, the report in the NYT pointed out. This attention to detail and operational efficiency became a hallmark of the company’s growth strategy.

The innovative model proved highly successful, and the chain rapidly expanded. By 1969, CVS had grown to 42 stores, including the first locations with pharmacies, marking a significant evolution in its service offerings. That same year, the company was sold to the Melville Corporation, a retail conglomerate that included Thom McAn shoes, K-B Toys, and Marshalls discount clothing.

The late 1960s were a period of turbulence and change for CVS. According to the information provided in the NYT report, Ralph Hoagland, whose political views were influenced by the counterculture movement of the 1960s, left the company in 1969 after an article in The Boston Globe revealed his financial support for a faction of the antiwar Students for a Democratic Society. This revelation angered some Melville directors, prompting Hoagland’s departure. Stanley Goldstein then assumed the role of CVS’s president, a position previously held by Hoagland.

“Ralph was the wild man who’d push the envelope,” Stanley later recalled. “Sid was quite conservative. And I was in the middle.”

By the time Goldstein retired as CEO in 1998, CVS had grown to over 4,000 stores nationwide. His tenure saw the company diversify its offerings and establish a robust presence in the health and beauty sector. The NYT reported that today, CVS boasts more than 9,000 outlets across the United States and its territories, with revenues surpassing those of major corporations like Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, and Ford.

Under Goldstein’s leadership, CVS continued to thrive and expand. His no-nonsense approach and focus on customer needs were reflected in the company’s growth strategy, which emphasized affordability and accessibility.

Goldstein’s contributions to CVS have left an indelible mark on the retail landscape. Today, CVS stands as a testament to his vision and leadership, serving millions of customers across the United States. As the company continues to evolve, it carries forward the principles and values that Goldstein championed, ensuring that his legacy endures in the hearts of those who knew him and the countless lives he impacted through his work.

 

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