Brand Sleuthing Psssssst at Walgreen’s

Some stores can be brand archeology exhibits.

While market researchers admire Vermont Country Store, of course, another is Walgreen’s, if only because it is usually next door, and has prescriptions and film. The store itself is proof that providing odd, seemingly outmoded products for strange, unfashionable consumers is quite a profitable business. Want to get those Super 8 movies developed? Come on down to the Walgreen’s photo shop! Want to score some Jontue, Shalimar, L’Air Du Temps or English Leather? Say hello to the lady at the Walgreen’s perfume counter. She’ll take you right back to 1973.

For the lone brand writer fascinated with products at the margins of American culture, a store that seems to hang on to strange markets so out of fashion that they have turned retro is heaven. And Walgreen’s is the greatest not only because they sell funky old brands, it is greatest because Walgreen’s itself is a funky, funky old survivor brand that dominates every street corner in America. Heck, it never even changed its scripty logo. And it mostly doesn’t buy other drugstore chains. Instead, it builds its own snazzy little stores and puts the others out of business.

A brand archeology expedition to a Walgreen’s in Sarasota, Florida found two items of interest. The first was Psssssst shampoo. Psssssst comes from the same sphere of brain area recall that products like Body on Tap shampoo live in. It’s a product that was popular a long time ago, but has now become sort of forgotten. But then, there it is on the shampoo aisle, next to the pomade!

History is scant on Psssssst. We do know that Psssssst was the perfect product from the Space Race era. Indeed its chief benefit was that you could use it to wash hair without actually washing hair. A spray of Psssssst into hair killed all the grease and made it fresh again. It was mostly a woman’s product, meant for a time when ladies set their hair. Males would only use it when ill, and not able to wash, or when on Boy Scout wilderness trips.

The other odd product Walgreen’s sells is a latex shower cap. Looking at the picture here, one would be hard pressed to know if this was actually a brand or just a product sold without a brand at all. Whatever it is, women who still wear these Latex Pool Caps sure need Psssssst.

But just remember. Psssssst has SIX s’s, not five!

One more brand rule:

BrandlandUSA Rule: Sell marginal products to niche markets. They require no advertising, and carry high margins. Strange women in Kansas will buy it, we guess Anderson Cooper’s mom buys it, and hot sorority chicks in Atlanta will buy it, and all will pay $4.99 a six pack for it, no coupons. You will never have to worry about a sale or ad budget. They just sell.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.


  1. Psssssst! was developed by Clairol in its Bristol-Myers days. Another fun old product in a similar vein was Mini-Poo. It was a powder that you had to put on manually (a la the wigs of the 1700s!) Its maker was Block Drug.

  2. hi , i am looking for a product that walgreens carried sometime ago , it s call healing helping hands or helping healing hands , can you tell me where i can get it , it smells bad when you put it on , but then the smell goes away , my aunt used this for many years
    thank you

  3. Green– Glad to hear of the growing Tab market. Not a bad song.

  4. I happen to know thatTab is popular among computer programmers known as Code Monkeys (see and me. I a 47 year old white male from Indiana.
    Maybe that explains it. BTW, TAB goes for about $3/12pack on sale a Krogers and the sell a lot. 🙂

  5. Atlanta chicks like Diet Pepsi. PULEEZZ.

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