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Jean Bartell Barber, Vice Chairman and Treasurer

“Bartell Drugs has its roots in Seattle,” says Jean Bartell Barber, Vice Chairman and Treasurer of Bartell’s. “We know that Puget Sound residents expect the best. Being just okay is never good enough, so it’s made Bartell’s work harder to be more innovative.”

“We know that Puget Sound residents expect the best. Being just okay is never good enough, so it’s made Bartell’s work harder to be more innovative.”

Jean is well suited to know the needs of the regional community. As granddaughter of the store’s founder, George H. Bartell, Sr., she has been with the company since 1993. Historically responsible for finance, risk management, administration, human resources and strategic planning, she has witnessed the growth of the largest and oldest family-owned drugstore chain in the country.

Jean began her professional life as a loan officer at the former Seafirst Bank. She went on to become assistant vice president at NCNB (later Nations Bank) in North Carolina and then treasurer of a North Carolina home building business before moving back to Seattle to continue her involvement in the family business. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Washington with a Bachelor degree in business administration and graduated with distinction from The Wharton School’s MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jean emphasizes that Seattle has always been a major player in retail, with companies like Starbucks, Costco and Nordstrom. She lists Bartell’s as an early adopter of concepts and services now the norm, including soda fountains, in-store photo developing and photo kiosks, and lately, beer growler filling stations. “We’re very proud that we were one of the first drugstores to open in-store clinics for convenient healthcare options for our customers.”

“What makes us unique is that we emphasize community and neighborhoods,” says Jean. She’s quick to point out that a prime location may not always be on the highest traffic street corner, but within a neighborhood where the residents have a better access to the store.

As the healthcare and retail environment evolves, and the mega-pharmacies and online retailers continue to merge, she is confident about the future of Bartell’s. “We can offer a store in an urban neighborhood a different range of products and services than one of our stores that serves a more suburban audience. That kind of responsiveness is important.”

Jean is active in community organizations and currently sits on the executive and full boards of the YWCA and chairs its Endowment Committee, as well as being involved as a board member of Henbart, a real estate development firm, and Urban Hardwoods. She is also a member of the Seattle Chapter of the International Women’s Forum and was Co-Chair of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Blue Ribbon Task Force for the City of Seattle.

She is particularly proud of her three children: Neal, who is studying Architecture at the graduate level at U.C. Berkeley; Hugh, currently earning his MBA at Columbia University; and Evelyn “Evie” Merrill recently graduated from Babson College with her MBA, who represents the fourth generation the of Bartell family working at the company.

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