A picture of the first Tobin
Drug Oconomowoc location in the early 1970s.
– Tobin’s on Brown Street has been known by a few variations
of that name throughout the years, but what hasn’t changed is
the service and knowledge of what ails you over the last century.
The store is now owned by brothers and pharmacists Doug and Dave
Schultz, along with their wives Ruth and Shirley.
There will be a celebration of the anniversary this weekend on
Saturday and Sunday with deals, door prizes and an Elvis tribute
performance from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The business, Tobin Drugs, was first created July 1, 1913 by
founder and pharmacist Frank Tobin. He was a businessman who had a
downtown location in Burlington.
In 1949, a businessman named Leonard Gums was sold a part of the
business and during the next 10 years, took over as the owner.
Participating in a
ribbon-cutting for a new Tobin location in the 1960s from
left to right, then-Burlington Mayor Leo Warren, Mrs. Len
Gums, Don Schultz and Frank Tobin.
Gums became ill around 1960, and two years later Doug and Dave’s
father, Don Schultz, bought half of the business with a friend
taking the other half.
“He had to put up our house for sale and use that money to buy
the business,” Doug said.
The family had been living in Lake Geneva and moved to Burlington.
It was around 1965 that Don’s wife, Deloris Schultz, got
involved in the business and said it would be a good idea to have
a gift shop within the pharmacy.
Taking a chance
Soon the business outgrew its size, and Don took another chance
– in 1966 he moved into the first-ever shopping center
constructed in Burlington on Pine Street.
Tobin Drugs takes a leap by
moving its new location in Burlington,
the first shopping center in the area back in 1966.
“My dad had always put value in having enough parking,
especially for the older clients,” Doug said.
The business kept growing and Don was quickly running out of room
again, so he moved into a large location still inside the center.
In the 1970s, he had a massive expansion of the business,
including a second location in Burlington and other stores in
Whitewater, Jefferson, Twin Lakes and Oconomowoc.
“He purchased Handyside Pharmacy from Joseph Handyside in
downtown Oconomowoc that was in the Mueller Square Shopping
Center,” Doug said. “That is how we got into the city and
renamed it Tobin Drug Oconomowoc.”
By 1976, the pharmacy was completely computerized.
Making Oconomowoc home
Don decided to retire in 1981 so he sold off all of the stores
except the Oconomowoc location. Doug and Dave moved their families
to the Lake Country area in 1981 and took over the management of
the store, located next to Ben Franklin.
In the early 1980s, they took over some nearby businesses,
including Cooney Liquors, which had been inside the same building,
plus a laundromat space. Big exterior renovations were also done.
In the late 1990s, however, Sentry Foods moved out of the
“When they moved out, it reduced the customer traffic to the
area,” Doug said.
During the late 1990s to early 2000s, Tobin’s expanded its gift
offerings to include high-end cosmetics, including Estée Lauder
and Clinique, as well as expanded women’s clothing and jewelry.
Co-owner of Tobin’s, Doug
Schultz, shows off drawers from the original Tobin Drug
in Burlington from back in 1913.
“At that point, Dave and I started looking at the future of that
location,” Doug said. “We had run up against a problem because
we were losing business because we did not have a drive-thru
window available for the pharmacy, which the younger generation
“The other problem was we were hearing from older customers that
it was difficult to get in and out of the parking lot. We tried
staying there, but it just didn’t work.”
A product found in the
drawers from the original Tobin Drug back in 1913 called
“Raymound’s Pectoral Plaster.”
In early January of 2005, they purchased the property where their
store is now, at 1260 Brown St.
Fred Stier of Stier Construction helped construct the current
building in July of 2005 and the Schultzes moved in and opened by
April 30, 2006.
All about the customer
“The real thing that keeps us going is the atmosphere of the
store,” Doug said about the long history. “I call it customer-
He said that means high quality products, high quality employees
and an “incredible shopping experience.” The business has six
pharmacists, including Dave, Doug and Ruth.
Current Tobin’s owners
Shirley, Dave, Doug and Ruth Schultz.
“The main is treating the customers like family and treating
them like you want to be treated when going somewhere,” Dave
said. “Also, providing a quality product for a fair price and
getting a selection you can’t always find everywhere else.”
Doug started working as a teen at the second location back in
Burlington in 1966, and Dave started around 1972 when he was a
junior in high school. Doug said he still remembers
beginner tasks like using marking guns to price tag items and
making signs using a printing press, letters and ink.
Dave said the business has succeeded all of these years with hard
work and little bit of luck.
The future of Tobin’s is one of change, Doug said, as they
always have to be aware of the buying habits of the customers.
“If you’re not willing to change, you’re going to become
obsolete,” Doug said.
The brothers are keeping a close eye on changing trends within the
industry, including the concept of mail-order pharmacies and the
Affordable Care Act’s impact.