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When Thrifty Drug Store Sold 5-Cent Ice Cream Cones

In the 1960s, the Thrifty in Sherman Oaks featured ice cream, a coffee shop counter, tube testers for your TV and Prell concentrate shampoo in clear plastic tubes.

Back in the 1960s, Thrifty Drug Store in Sherman Oaks was a major depot for picking up drug items, buying delectable ice cream during hot Valley summers, and even dining at the in-store coffee shop.

I vividly recall making regular stop-offs at Thrifty with my mom in our family's powder-blue Ford Country Squire station wagon (purchased from nearby Ralph Williams Ford on Ventura Boulevard). Thrifty had a certain charm to it, and there has never been another drug store like it. For this reason, customers old enough to remember Thrifty often refer to its current "Rite Aid" moniker as "Thrifty's." 

The Thrifty drugstores, which merged with the Pay Less drugstore chain in the '60s era, was a Southern California mainstay with many locations. Luckily, when Rite Aid later took over Thrifty, it kept the ice cream name as "Thrifty Award Winning Ice Cream," which, in case you didn't know, is still manufactured in El Monte. Classic Thrifty ice cream flavors include: Chocolate Malted Krunch, which is one of the best ice creams of all time. Then there were the unique "Frankenstein" scoopers, which produce a flattop scoop of ice cream (as in the accompanying photo here).

As a kid, I could get a scoop of Thrifty ice cream for 5 cents and a double for a dime! That was some deal, considering that the quality of Thrifty ice cream was very high and is still one of the best-selling brands of ice cream in Southern California, although many Rite Aid stores do not have the ice cream stations.

Some of the products carried by Thrifty that I recall being such a part of my family's grooming regimen (some of which I still use today) included: Prell concentrate shampoo, Speed Stick "regular green" men's deodorant, Groom N' Clean blue hair gel in a toothpaste-style tube, Skin Bracer aftershave by Mennen, and aqua-colored Zest bar soap.

The candy aisle at Thrifty was stellar, and included items such as Milk Shake candy bars and Monkees trading cards (which featured banana bubble gum).

Now there's a World Market in the spot where Thrifty Drug Store used to be in Sherman Oaks, but I always think of how many times my parents would stop at Thrifty after family dinners out on Ventura Boulevard.

I have to say, with the disappearance of both Sav-On drugstores and the Thrifty, going into the more generic-feeling CVS pharmacy is just not the same for me.

Joe September 25, 2011 at 07:53 AM
I hear ya. Zody's, White Front, Woolworth. They are all gone, and Thrifty which briefly became Osco, remains as Rite Aid. The valley has lost its way. It has become some sort of hodge podge metropolis of houses with no identity and worst of all, aside from Calabasas, it truly is one crowded mess of largely impoverished folks sweltering under the recession.
Linda Lucks September 26, 2011 at 04:07 AM
I loved to shop with my girl friends in Panorama City and stop at the Thrifty's counter for a soda and fries or a milk shake.
Barbara Evans September 26, 2011 at 01:04 PM
It was always a special treat when my mom would take my sister and I to thriftys for a ice cream cone. We didn't have a car or much money so on those warm summer evenings we would walk to get an ice cream cone. My mom is gone now and so are the 5 cent cones but i'll never forget those special memories. Thank you thriftys and mom I sure miss you.
Bob Kirk September 26, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Great memories Hal, the triple @ 15c was a steal as well, and SavOn @ Cedros was expensive @ 10c a scoop on opening ......But, I think the Encino 'Thrifty' @ Zelzah still has an ice cream counter but now about a $1 a scoop. It seems that corporate giants like to take over real community stores & strip them of their identities to conform to he corporate banner- e.g Sav-On is now CVS & run poorly, as Long's also became changed to CVS, Rite Aid, what the he[[ is that....some lughead came up with that silly monniker....
Beth Richardson May 11, 2012 at 04:04 AM
I worked at Thrifty Drug Store as a teenager and I have two vintage prescription boxes. I have looked online to try to find a value and have not found anything. They do make the best ice cream for the price and I remember (fondly) in kindergarten going to our local Thrifty Drug Store to get ice cream for 5 cents a scoop. And to Bob Kirk, most of the Thriftys had an Ice Cream Counter. It was my favorite place to visit when I took a break when I worked there.
Beth Richardson May 11, 2012 at 04:07 AM
I also remember Zody's, Newberrys, Gemco.....so many others. I think of all of them K-mart is the only one still alive. Newberrys also had a lunch counter/diner type area within the store. Ahhhh......memories.
Kim Cooke August 28, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Wonderful memories. The two best things about Thrifty in the sixties, besides the ice cream, were that air conditioning and that distinctive smell. I can always remember walking in from outside and immediately to one side was the ice cream counter. Many years later, I worked as a clerk and then manager in several stores in LA, including Beverly Hills. That was a nice store, but I must say that working for them took a bit of sweetness from my memories.
Tina Perry February 22, 2014 at 01:40 PM
Nice article. I live in central California and I remember as a kid in the late 60s going to Thrifty after church. My Dad would buy us an ice cream if we were good. If we were extra good he would buy our dog a vanilla one! He said it was "only 5 cents" so we did our best to take the dog one. I started working at Payless Drug Store in Jan. 1988 and we did not merge with Thrifty until a few years later. Rite Aid took over about a year after that. If there are any Rite Aids in Cali that don't have an ice cream counter they must have been old Payless stores. I now work in a Rite Aid that has an old counter like the ones I remember. Every time I work the counter someone comes in and says "I remember when ice cream was 15 or 20 cents a scoop. I just laugh and tell them to be carefull they are telling their age! It is nice to see young parents come in with their little ones and tell them their memories. Even after all these years Thrifty Ice Cream is still the best and the memories make it even better!

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