Farewell to Globe Drug Store on Cherokee

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Globe Drugs
2626 Cherokee Street
South St. Louis, MO

The Cherokee Street News broke the news that the venerable Globe Drug store had closed its doors, and got the sentiment right in the headline: 1939-2010. It does feel like a friend has died.

I was expecting a mass outpouring of reports and condolences in the St. Louis press, but so far, only the RFT has jumped on the tragic news. Thank you.

After the initial shock, my first thought was of Sandy Cohen, the son of the Globe Empire begun in 1939.  Sandy was born into this store, and it’s the only job he’s ever had. His enthusiasm and love for his working retail museum never seemed to waiver, and if – from his perch in the pharmacy – he noticed you taking pictures and reveling in the atmosphere, he’d cheerfully offer to take you on a tour.

Sandy would point out that the place was a 905 liquor store before his family took over, and iron grills over the vents in the ceiling confirm that this 1913 building was the home of a long-gone, sorely missed St. Louis cheap buzz tradition, from 1937 – 1953.

A Sandy tour gave you backstage access, which in this case is a ride in the original, unadulterated freight elevator up to the 2nd floor. The door loudly slid open to reveal a vast, dark area used for storage, with still-decorated Christmas trees and unopened Easter baskets scattered about.

And then comes the reveal of a bowling alley?

Sandy wasn’t quite sure if there actually was a bowling alley in the building, or if this was just a rescued relic from elsewhere that found a permanent home in the Globe Museum.

The business office truly was a scrapbook of the history of the Globe, and of the Cohen family, both blood related and extended.

The rendering of the St. Louis cityscape (above) was commissioned by Joe as a way to feature all 4 Globe locations. As of this writing, the variety store on South Broadway near Soulard, and the wholesale warehouse at Clark & Tucker in downtown St. Louis remain open.  The Globe variety store a couple of blocks west of 2626 Cherokee closed in the mid-90s.

Among the hundreds of photos on the walls is a shot of this store when it was 905 Liquors.

And here’s the same ceiling fixture still in place today.

One of Sandy’s favorite mementos is a letter he received in 2008 from someone confessing to having stolen candy from the store when they were 10. They apologized and sent along this dollar to pay for what they took.

Globe Drug was one of those rare birds: a still-vibrant, direct link to the past. History has personal meaning when you can physically trace the connections and experience a small slice of what life was like before it hit warp speed, before it was corporate, before rat-a-tat gloss suffocated neighborhood personality.

We’re at the reverse of needing to advance the population; the earth is suffering the damage of too many people at one time. So the modern need for offspring  seems an instinctive drive for immortality. Globe Drug felt like a slice of immortality, St. Louis style. I can feel the heavy sadness of Sandy Cohen and family as they pack up 57 years of life and cart it out of this building. And even as the neighborhood comes back to life all around it, all of us will feel the emptiness as we pass by 2626 Cherokee.

From a Suburban Journals article on the office wall:

“Who says that you can’t go back? In the “hurry, hurry” world of today’s super conglomerate drug stores, Globe Drugs…stands proudly as proof that quality and commitment to its customers needs still make a difference.  …the Cohen family has worked hard to keep the nostalgic atmosphere that you would have found when FDR was in the White House… So, go back. Go back to a time when a variety store was the cornerstone of a community.”

12 thoughts on “Farewell to Globe Drug Store on Cherokee

  1. I learned of Globe Drug this past summer and what a difference it has made in my life !!! The cost effective inventory of snacks,sodas, and energy drinks allow me to provide free refreshment to all of those who work for me on my job sites. Production and morale has gone through the roof and I hope the last remaining store will continue to thrive as it has truly been a blessing to my company !!
    I also love their food specials,coffee, and YES , the beer / liquor selection which makes entertaining friends during the holiday seasons and gatherings both affordable and fun !!
    If anyone was truly saddened by the closing of the Cherokee store,now is your chance to step up and patronize the last store remaining before it could close. These people rely on us consumers to shop their inventory to keep them supplying us. Lets not let one of our prize possessions go to waste !!

    Thanks much to all of the staff at globe drug and especially to the guys who help me carry and load all of my snacks,drinks,ect. when i visit.
    You guys really are the best !!


  2. Aww, that’s a shame it’s closing. I loved going there. I jump between this one on Cherokee and the one near Soulard, depending on which is more convenient at the time. I will miss Globe on Cherokee.

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  4. 1. I like the display case labeled quaintly “Ear Remedies”. Remedies … what a great word. And a Dwight Twilley song, too.
    2. That’s true variety: “Housewares*Toys*Garden Supplies*Sporting Goods*Electric Appliances” And is that “as opposed to manual appliances”? Good.
    Look at the way the font changes on the sign
    3. It appears that the laws in the early 20th Cent. in St. Louis were laxer and u could actually sit on a stool at a bar and have a drink at a liquor store.
    4. Since churches often had bowling lanes and “Hope Bowling” would be an odd name for a “secular” lane, I am wondering if it could have been the remnants of an alley at Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, Brannon ave. and Neosho. The other Hope churches in the list of churches in 1925 are far too puritan for that sort of things. Catholics, definitely. Lutherans, maybe. The other possibility is that the 905 had a bowling alley since they were serving drinks on premises and needed to give their patrons something to burn it off.
    5. Insect Killers next to Wine. Good move, Globe! In later days, most of their wine could kill insects b/c it was either rot gut or recent vintages past their time that they got on closeout. And in beer, FYI, Hollandia is *not* a good substitute for Heineken. At least not the Globe’s shipment of Hollandia.

  5. With the closing of anything Globe-related, let us pause to remember Gene “the newspaperman” Starr. Gene was always promising to revive the Globe-Democrat, handing out free newspapers of various stripes and would hang out at Globe drug stores just because of the name Globe, I think.

  6. Lovely tribute!

    The rendering actually is a rendering mash-up of all of the buildings built or occupied by the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, the New York-based footwear manufacturer that purchased and expanded the building Globe owns downtown. The Cohens must have grabbed it from that building and moved it to Cherokee. Hopefully the rendering and all other archive-worthy Globe material will be preserved.

  7. Amazing article – and what a historic perspective on specific elements I never knew existed at the store throughout my childhood during visits when Uncle Sandy used let us roam the aisles and pick out whatever school supplies we wanted.

    It’s a shame that this quintessential beacon of light and warmth in St. Louis will no longer shine bright.

  8. I can’t believe it. When I first set up housekeeping, I’d religiously comb through the Globe Drugs ad in each week’s South Side Journal and go stock up on the sale items every Saturday morning. I can’t believe it survived Cherokee’s bleakest times but not its rebirth. The only acceptable reason for Globe to close is that the owners/proprietors were ready to retire and cash out. Anything else is just crazy.

  9. Until the early 90s (at least) you could still take your kids to sit on Santa’s knee at the Cherokee Globe Drug. It was the hoosier Miracle on 34th Street. Going to miss it, bigtime. We did a lot of World Wide Magazine shoots there.

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