Skip to main content

In a sea of urban blight and boarded up homes and businesses, Del-Kar Pharmacy stands out as a beacon of hope and a hub of commerce in the Chicago neighborhood of North Lawndale.

“I’m passionate about being a drugstore owner, because it’s the honor of being a businessman, being a black-owned business, being able to provide and serve the community,” said Edwin Muldrow, owner and pharmacist at Del-Kar Pharmacy.

Muldrow wears his professional pride to work every day, hoping to set an example for those around him.

I look at the community that I serve in, and every day, I'm the only man around here wearing a shirt and tie. So, I think indirectly, I'm giving hope and inspiration to the young men in the community. And hopefully they can aspire to become whatever they need to become in life.

Edwin MuldrowOwner, Del-Kar Pharmacy

Del-Kar Pharmacy was opened in 1960 by Muldrow’s father, Edward, at a time when the North Lawndale neighborhood bustled with promise and progress. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to buy his daily newspaper at Del-Kar when the civil rights icon lived in the neighborhood in the late 1960s.

“When he lived in Chicago, he lived on 15th and Hamlin. Dr. King was a customer in my dad’s store,” said Edwin. “We take pride and homage in having such a legacy of Dr. King choosing to support a fellow black-owned business at the time.”

Edwin Muldrow started working at Del-Kar in 1992. He says his business is more endangered than ever because of a web of challenges in his industry.

“One of the main challenges we’re experiencing in the pharmacy and drugstore industry is our reimbursements. About 10 years ago, we would make at least $4 to $4.50 per prescription item. But now, we’re seeing profits where we’re receiving 10 to 20 cents per prescription item. How are we supposed to stay in business if we’re not making our due profits?” questioned Muldrow, his voice peaking with emotion.

“My father had the foresight to invest and buy the property that we’re in. And it’s because we own the property, we’re able to keep costs down, and we’re able to endure the change in the pharmacy landscape.”

I don’t think there’s anyone coming behind me. I’m one of the only black-owned drugstores in the state of Illinois. We’re in an urban community in North Lawndale in Chicago. Who’s going to be here if we’re not?” Muldrow rhetorically stated.

“It’s tough enough for any business to be viable in the city of Chicago. And if we leave, I don’t see another business coming behind me,” Muldrow said. ‘Who’s going to be providing health care to African-Americans in my neighborhood if we leave?”

“If I can give one piece of advice to a new retailer, I would say please don’t quit your day job until you are 100 percent vested in your new business opportunity. Going into business and owning the business requires a lot of capital. I think the main reason why a lot of new businesses fail within the first six months to a year is they’re under-capitalized. So please make sure you have enough capital to withstand the good times and definitely the bad times,” stressed Muldrow.

Muldrow grabbed his winter coat and his blue-knit cap, with the word “Chicago” stitched in its wool fabric and headed into the frigid outdoors.

He walked to the other side of his building and into a small, neighborhood market he owns filled with aisles of snack food. Within this building, there are five commercial storefronts on the ground floor and two residential apartments on the second floor.

“It’s because of these additional revenues which allow me to maintain my passion, which is the pharmacy,” Muldrow said.

Everybody knows Muldrow’s name on this corner, and even if they’re too young to know his parents, North Lawndale is constantly reminded of their legacy. This past summer, Muldrow had a beautiful, bright mural created on the walls outside his drug store.

“I love this mural. This is our history,” said Muldrow with a wide smile as he pointed back to a signature message he wants everyone to see on his mural featuring his neighborhood heroes, which includes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his parents. “This is my mom. This is my dad. Past lessons become future blessings.”

Leave a Reply