Sidney Barthwell: One the Owner of the Largest Black-Owned Drugstore Chain “Barthwell Drugs”

0 Posted by - January 17, 2022 - LATEST POSTS

Sidney Barthwell was once the owner of the largest black-owned drugstore chain, Barthwell Drugs, in the United States. He opened a new store every two years until he had a total of 13 stores around Detroit.


Barthwell was born in Cordele, Georgia on February 17, 1906. As a young child, he attended Lucius H. Holsey Academy of Excellence. In 1922, he left Georgia when he was 14 to join his father in Chicago and found work in a meat packing plant.  Barthwell attended the prestigious Cass Technical High School where he was enrolled in a course that specialized in pharmacological sciences.  After graduating from high school in 1925, Barthwell attended Detroit Technological Institute and graduated in 1929 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.

Despite having his degree, Barthwell had a difficult time finding work because of the discriminatory atmosphere. The pharmacy that eventually did hire Barthwell was not only unlicensed but also it was quickly evident that the business was unstable financially. Barthwell took over the pharmacy and renamed it Barthwell Drugs in 1933. It did not take him long to gain a group of loyal customers. He became a well-known and respected figure throughout Chicago.

He helped other Blacks seeking employment, he would either employ them or assist with finding them work with other pharmacists. Several other pharmacists claimed that their first start was working for Barthwell.

Barthwell began opening a new store about every two years until he had 13 stores around Detroit.  It was not unusual at the time for pharmacies to have a soda fountain and sell ice cream.  Three of Barthwell’s stores sold ice cream exclusively.  Although he did expand steadily, it was often difficult for Barthwell to get loans from banks and he would often have to get more than one loan to finance a new store.  Unfortunately, as new stores emerged during the 1980s, Barthwell Drug stores were not able to compete. The last Barthwell store closed in 1987.

Barthwell was also the first African American member of the Detroit Retail Druggist Association, president of the Booker T. Washington Business Association, a lifelong member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and a charter member of the Alpha Beta chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi at Wayne State University. Sidney Barthwell died in 2005 at the age of 99.




  • Jazz Cook August 13, 2018 - 9:23 am

    Cass Technical H.S. is in Detroit, MI.

  • AGNES August 13, 2018 - 9:49 am

    I enjoy Blackthen! Your articles encourage me to search for more information on your subjects.
    Thank you!

  • gamefly May 2, 2019 - 9:13 am

    I’m really loving the theme/design of your website. Do you
    ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems?
    A few of my blog readers have complained about my site not operating correctly in Explorer but looks
    great in Opera. Do you have any ideas to help fix this problem?

  • how to download minecraft free May 9, 2019 - 8:30 am

    I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no
    one else know such detailed about my trouble. You are wonderful!

  • g May 11, 2019 - 9:10 am

    Excellent pieces. Keep posting such kind of information on your site.

    Im really impressed by it.
    Hi there, You’ve performed a fantastic job. I will
    definitely digg it and in my opinion suggest
    to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this

  • how to download minecraft free May 12, 2019 - 9:41 am

    This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped
    me. Cheers!

  • g May 13, 2019 - 1:18 am

    Hi friends, its great post concerning tutoringand entirely
    defined, keep it up all the time.

  • gamefly free trial June 1, 2019 - 4:47 am

    Hello colleagues, how is everything, and what you would like to say regarding
    this piece of writing, in my view its really awesome designed for me.

  • FranMonry June 2, 2019 - 8:28 am

    Orlistat No Prescription Billig Viagra cialis cheapest online prices Cephalexin 500mg For Toothache

  • gamefly free trial June 3, 2019 - 9:33 pm

    Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff
    previous to and you are just too excellent. I actually like
    what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you are stating
    and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise.
    I cant wait to read much more from you. This is actually
    a wonderful web site.

  • gamefly free trial June 7, 2019 - 11:09 am

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a
    blog that’s equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is an issue that too few folks are
    speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt
    for something relating to this.

  • quest bars cheap June 14, 2019 - 4:28 am

    I’m no longer certain the place you’re getting your information, however great topic.
    I must spend some time studying much more or
    understanding more. Thanks for magnificent information I used to be looking for
    this information for my mission.

  • FranMonry June 17, 2019 - 6:37 am

    Ed Drugs From India Keflex 125 Mg Propecia Non Funziona levitra. brand name bayer.. 20 mg. Abdominal Bleeding With Amoxicillin Viagra O Cialis Cual Es Mejor Levaquin With Doctor Consult

  • […] was born on September 1, 1947 into a distinguished Detroit family. His father, Sidney Barthwell, owned the legendary chain of 13 Barthwell Drug Stores. His mother, Gladys Whitfield Barthwell, was a librarian, schoolteacher, and twice president of the […]

  • […] was born on September 1, 1947 into a distinguished Detroit family. His father, Sidney Barthwell, owned the legendary chain of 13 Barthwell Drug Stores. His mother, Gladys Whitfield Barthwell, was a librarian, schoolteacher, and twice president of the […]