Bartell Drugs’ roots in the Pacific Northwest began in 1890, when an ambitious 21-year-old pharmacist from Kansas decided to buy the Lake Washington Pharmacy in Seattle’s Central District.
George H. Bartell, Sr., devoted his efforts to offering innovative products, trusted and personalized pharmacy experiences and guest service second to none. Bartell had a short list of priorities when he started: help his customers stay healthy and keep them coming back for more by offering a great selection as well as what we call Red Vest Service— a staff ready to go above and beyond to help their neighbors and guests get what they need in a clean and welcoming environment.
The young Bartell could have only dreamed that someday his little pharmacy would one day become the oldest family-owned drugstore chain in the country, and that his family name would represent one of the Puget Sound region’s greatest success stories.
In 1939, George Sr., handed the reins to his son, George H. Bartell, Jr., who led the company for 50 years. In 1990, George D. Bartell – grandson of our founder – became chairman and CEO of Bartell Drugs, while his sister Jean (Bartell) Barber serves as vice chairman and treasurer. In 2015, the leadership was passed to Brian Unmacht, the first non-Bartell leader of the company in its 125-year history. Under Unmacht, Bartell’s is moving ahead again by upgrading and modernizing our products and services, while serving as the “bridge” to the fourth generation of Bartell family moving into leadership roles.
Bartell Drugs has long been prized for our innovation in both pharmacy and retail. We were an early adopter of gelatin capsules as a medicine delivery vehicle, the first in the area to have in-store photo processing and one-hour photo processing, and are now utilizing technological advances such as the MyIR system which puts the ability of patients to track their own immunization records.
Four generations later, George Sr.’s simple philosophy continues to guide our company. Though Bartell Drugs now has more than 64 stores in the Puget Sound region, each location features its own distinct neighborhood vibe and products. We may be a chain, but we’re local, and always remember that our customers are also our neighbors.