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GNC offers displaced retail professionals entrepreneurial opportunity

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH With the retail job force contracting, General Nutrition Company is positioning its franchise base as an attractive alternative to beating the job-search pavement with a 25% discount of its initial franchise fee for displaced retail professionals, available through July 31.

“At a time when many retailers are going out of business, cutting jobs and closing locations, GNC sales are as strong as ever and the company continuesto expand its retail locations,” stated EVP president of store development Tom Dowd. “GNC is continuing to do very well, opening 237 stores in North America alone within the last three years and another 50-plus planned to open this year.”

GNC suggested that an estimated 14,000 retailers will close their doors this year. 

As part of a press release issued Monday, the specialty retailer stated, “Despite the challenging economic climate in the United States — which has cost thousands of experienced retail employees their jobs — the supplement and self-care industry remains a $21 billion industry and continues to grow at a rate of 4% to 6% each year.”

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George H. Bartell Jr. passes away at 92

BY Antoinette Alexander

SEATTLE George H. Bartell Jr., chairman emeritus of the nation’s oldest pharmacy retailer Bartell Drug Co., died on Jan. 21 in Scottsdale, Ariz., after a short illness. He was 92 years old.

Bartell Jr., the only son of the company’s founder, not only guided the chain through its initial suburban expansion and retail transformation following World War II, but proudly carried on the tradition of customer service and respect of employees after taking over the business from his father, George H. Bartell Sr.

“My father instilled in us what his own father had believed: respect your employees and treat your customers well,” stated George D. Bartell, Bartell Jr.’s son who continued the family tradition by becoming president in 1990 and later became and remains chairman and CEO.

The current third generation of Bartells running the 55-store chain includes vice chairman and treasurer, Jean Bartell Barber.

When Bartell Jr. was a youngster his father asked him if the company should be sold to a rival, out-of-state drug store chain for $1 million. Without hesitation, Bartell Jr. told his father no. His father agreed and today the company is the oldest family-owned drug store chain the United States with locations in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties of Washington.

In 1935, Bartell Jr. left the University of Washington after one year of study because a doctor had informed his father that he had only a few months to live. As it turned out, his father lived more than 20 years longer and actually outlived the doctor.

Bartell Jr., an avid hiker and ardent golfer, began at the bottom of his father’s business, moving boxes and filling warehouse orders as he learned the business. He continued his on-the-job training by working as a clerk and then an assistant store manager before being put in charge of purchasing and merchandising for the candy and tobacco departments. He later took charge of store design and was named president in 1939. In 1942, Bartell Jr., who grew up on Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill, was drafted into the U.S. Army and rose to the rank captain.

In 1951, a state law requiring drug store owners to be licensed pharmacists prompted him to enroll in the University of Washington after a 17-year absence and earn a degree in pharmacy. The law was later ruled unconstitutional, but at the time of its passage, it appeared that unless he returned to college to earn a degree in pharmacy, the company would have to be sold when his father died.

In the 1950s, Bartell Drugs became the first drug store located in a major regional shopping center—Seattle’s Northgate Mall. The company also began opening new locations in growing communities throughout King County, including Bellevue and Burien.

Aside from enjoying hobbies, Bartell Jr. also participated in a number of civic and philanthropic activities. These included The Municipal League, the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Young President’s Organization and The Retail Trade Bureau, all of which he headed at one point in time, as well as Boy Scouts and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Rainier Club, Scottish Rite Temple and the Chief Executive’s Forum. He was also a supporter of the University of Washington School of Pharmacy and Husky football.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Elizabeth, who passed away in 2003. He is survived by his children, George D. Bartell, Jean Bartell Barber, Robert H. Bartell, and seven grandchildren.

Memorials may be addressed to the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America or The Salvation Army. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Feb. 5 at the University Presbyterian Church, 4540 15th Avenue NE in Seattle.

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Study finds Kentucky has most smoking-related deaths

BY Alaric DeArment

ATLANTA More people die from smoking-related illnesses in Kentucky than in any other state, with 371-in-100,000 deaths among adults aged 35 and older resulting from smoking, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The next nine states with the highest rates were West Virginia, Nevada, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana and Missouri. Utah had the lowest rate, with 138 out of every 100,000 deaths caused by smoking.

In addition to having the highest death rates from smoking, Kentucky and West Virginia also had the highest percentages of adults who smoked.

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