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Ellis Pharmacy – A Neighborhood Cornerstone since 1887 Philadelphia, PA

Posted on: November 29, 2017



While you may not need a prescription filled if you’re just visiting Philly,  don’t let that deter you from taking the short 10 minute walk from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Ellis Pharmacy. It is the perfect Retro Roadmap-worthy place in the neighborhood to get a water or soda, snack, pain reliever, lip balm or whatever you may need to set you straight.

AND you’ll also receive a healthy dose of history and friendly old-fashioned service!

Ellis Pharmacy Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

This teeny tiny corner shop originally opened in 1887. Current owner and pharmacist Walter “Walt” Cwietniewicz started working here in his youth, and in 1989 purchased the pharmacy from Mr. Ellis. For posterity, continuity, and ease of spelling he wisely decided to keep the store’s name, instead of changing it to his own!

Ellis Pharmacy Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

Walt is a font of history and information about the neighborhood and business, and if he’s not too busy he’ll be happy to show you some of the antique relics that have been discovered in this 125+ year old shop.Ellis Pharmacy Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

While the interior has changed a bit since the 1800s there is still evidence of the 1930s upgrade that added tin ceilings, wooden display shelves and a soda fountain. The marble top of which you can spot being used as a shelf today.

Ellis Pharmacy Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

A diminutive triangle shaped chair from the soda fountain days serves as a resting spot for visitors overwhelmed by the selection.

Ellis Pharmacy Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

The space is small square-footage wise,but boy do they make up for it with their assortment! Walt realizes he’s the place that many neighbors will stop in for those handy items you need in a pinch, and does his best to keep the place chockablock full of everyday necessities and brands you can’t find elswhere.

Ellis Pharmacy Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

Spending a few moments inside will warm not only your hands but your heart, when you hear Walt and his staff call customers by name as they enter, and engage in friendly conversation, arrange for delivery or chat about sports.

Ellis Pharmacy Philadelphia PA Retro Roadmap

Can you imagine that type of genuine personal touch in one of those chain pharmacies that are strong-arming us all into using them? I can’t, which makes Ellis Pharmacy a treasure not just for the neighborhood, but for all of us!

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  • jeannebodine

    I absolutely love this story & this place! My husband enjoyed the history so much. We are definitely gonna make a day trip to there. Thank you for bringing this treasure to us.

    BTW I took a photo of my car with your sticker on it. My car is a 1997 Rav4 that’s in fantastic shape, never any trouble and your sticker I put on my car in 20 years! Will post it soon.

    • Jeanne – thank you! I love that this hidden place still exists, as I only found it when trying to find a parking space around the Eastern State Penn! If you do go to check out Ellis’ – please note that it is teenyweeny, BUT! You might enjoy stopping at Jack’s Firehouse for a bite – not only is it in a renovated historic firehouse, but one of the original Pat’s Cheesesteak signs is on the back wall there (courtesy of neighbor Len Davidson) – thanks as always for your encouragement!

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