C. O. Bigelow Apothecaries has been a familiar sight in New Yorkīs Greenwich Village for over 160 years.
Founded in 1838 by Dr. Galen Hunter as the Village Apothecary Shop, it was bought and renamed in 1920 by Clarence Otis Bigelow.
Bigelow worked for Doctor Hunter and eventually took over the shop, setting a precedent that has been upheld ever since. The original store was located a couple doors down from the current address, but in 1902, the ambitious Bigelow built a new building for himself which has housed the pharmacy for the last hundred years.
Bigelow was always something of a mover and shaker: he served as treasurer of the department of Pharmacology at Columbia for 40 years, held a position on the state board for 17 years, and acted as president of the West Side Savings Bank for 25 years. The Sixth Avenue drugstore still looks very much the way it did in the nineteenth century, and the business philosophy— integrating innovative change with unparalleled customer service-- has remained a constant as well.
Pharmacist and businessman Ian Ginsberg now heads up the landmark shop, which came to him through his father. His family first became involved in the store when his grandfather took the helm a full century after its doors first opened. During the depression, Bigelow Chemists, like many others, became run down. Ianīs grandfather, also a pharmacist, bought the store in 1939, and now, after his fatherīs retirement, Ian runs the business. He is following the tradition started by Bigelow himself in 1920: the store has always passed from employer to employee. Moreover, he is just as much of a mover and shaker as C.O. Bigelow, and he has helped usher the business into the 21st century.
To keep the business moving forward, he took it on the Internet. Bigelow Chemists now has two e-commerce sites: Bigelowchemists.com, and alchemycosmetics.com, the main site for their well-known house brand of cosmetics and skincare products. They are two separate companies offering two separate but related brands. Ian decided to keep the sites separate (although Alchemy Cosmetics can be purchased from the Bigelow site) because he didnīt want to dilute either brand.