Welcome to Marra's Drug Store!
Joann Marra who graduated from St. John Pharmacy as full time
Pharmacists. Linda Marra is the card and gift manager. Many of the grandchildren still work to contribute to the store in some capacity.
Established 1923, this is our 88th year in business!
MARRA'S DRUGSTORE is a family-owned
Pharmacy, surgical and gift store that has a history, which is synonymous with the growth of Secaucus since the early 1900’s. MARRA'S DRUG STORE has a long and proud history of personal service and dedication provided by the Marra family with deep roots in the local community, and a deep commitment to
up holding professional standards. To fully understand the
Pharmacy's development and growth over the years, one must examine its early years.
BIRTH OF AN INSTITUTION.
MARRA'S DRUG STORE is one of the most familiar landmarks in Secaucus. The patriarch of the family, the late Gerard A. Marra Sr., whose unselfish service to the community earned him the title "Mr. Secaucus", founded the
Pharmacy Mr. Marra was born 1896 of Italian descent in the "Horseshoe" section of Jersey City. He began working in a
Pharmacy when he was 11 and by the age of 16 assisted in filling prescriptions. He sold newspapers in the old Pennsylvania Station to help pay his way through Rutgers College of Pharmacy. After graduation from College, he served in the U.S. army's medical corps in World War I. In 1923, Mr. Marra started the business when he moved from Jersey City to Secaucus at the suggestion of another old-timer and friend, Albert Buchmuller for whom Buchmuller Park was named. The first Marra's Drug Store was located at 1273 Paterson Plank Road. There he stayed until 1927, when he bought the corner property at 1285 Paterson Plank Road owned by the Niederer family, still in town, and containing the Hugerich Tavern and Hotel.
Mr. Marra moved his
Pharmacy and soda fountain to the street - level of the building and he and his wife Ida went upstairs to occupy the living quarters. It was there the rest of the family was born and raised Michael III, Joseph, Gerard Jr., and Angelo. Michael and Gerard went on to become registered Pharmacist and graduated from St. John's University. Angelo went on to manage the front of the business.
During the formative years of the business, a visitor might have seen any number of current Secaucus politicos working in the store, including former Mayor Paul Amico, who operated the concessions stand; former Police Chief Nicholas Zaccario, a clerk and soda clerk; former Public Defender Frank Jones, former Board of Health President William Lillis. Former School Board Secretary Ronald Temple. Former board of Ed President Eleanor Reinl, and many others.
The late 1920's and early 1930's brought the depression and Mr. Marra kept the store open from 9: am to midnight, seven days a week, but he would not turn aside an emergency caller during the early morning hours either. He had a buzzer installed in front of the store so a person in need could get help anytime during the night by buzzing him out of bed.
Despite the demands of the growing business and family, Mr. Marra still found time for community involvement with his appointment to the seat on the Secaucus Board of Education. Once established there, he continued to serve as an appointed member for over 40 years under Mayor Kane, his successor, James Moore and Mayor Amico. An indomitable person, Mr. Marra because of his tireless efforts on behalf of his community was appropriately dubbed "Mr. Secaucus", for there was little of consequence, and even inconsequential, that went on in Secaucus that was not in some degree influenced by the energetic and resourceful Pharmacist.
Ebullient as he was, Mr. Marra could not be content with simply compounding prescriptions, dispensing the needs of his customers, for the whole town was “his oyster”, and its needs were his concern. The spirit he engendered in his vocation and his avocations, and they were many, has so well been assimilated by his kinfolk that the name of Marra will be perpetuated in Secaucus. The veterans, the business people, the children were all within his sphere of influence. The quality of his leadership has been indelibly recorded in the annals of the American Legion, UNICO, Elks, Moose, numerous organizations such as American Cancer Society, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, Union City Selective Service Board for over 20 years, National Association of Retail Druggist and New Jersey Pharmaceutical Society.
Mr. Marra was a leading figure in the formation of the Secaucus Memorial Day Parade, Secaucus Elks 2238, and cofounder of the Secaucus American Legion post 118 along with Ed Strich. He served on the Selective Service Draft Board during, after WWII, and until his death in 1967. For his volunteer work on the draft board, he received certificates of commendation signed by Presidents Harry S. Truman, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. He also was the first chairperson of Secaucus Chapter of American Cancer Society and each year he could be counted upon to exceed the quota allotted him. His vision was responsible for much of the progress of the Secaucus school system and the development of the Plaza where his
Pharmacy is located.
Because of illness in his later years and the loss of his legs, a man of lesser stature would have slipped into retirement. Not Mr. Marra. He remained active as ever even though it had become necessary for him to use a wheelchair. He was a central figure wherever he went, so warm, and firm were the friendships he established. He was a familiar figure particularly at functions of the various Elks lodges and New Jersey Boys town in Kearny, one of his favorite charities. The resourcefulness that served him to overcome adversity was the same characteristic he employed when he sold newspapers to earn his way through Rutgers College of Pharmacy.
He was a constant source of news, so much so that his drugstore became known as the "second precinct", a place where reporters visited daily to learn what was going on, a place where residents frequently left their news releases. Marra's was the community headquarters, the suburban version of the old-fashioned country store.
Marra's Drug Store served as the community health center in the 1920's through the 1950's when there was no hospital in town and a few doctors. Patients came to the
Pharmacy first with many health problems and depended on Mr. Marra's expertise to decide what treatment was necessary. Burns, cuts, eye injuries, dental problems, farm and factory injuries, and all first aid injuries were all treated. The
Pharmacy was the emergency room for the Town of Secaucus. For very serious injuries, "Doc Marra" called the local doctor at home and consulted with him on how to proceed. If a patient needed a hospital, they were transported to Christ Hospital in Jersey City.
Mr. Marra administered antibiotic shots, took foreign objects out of patients eyes and cuts were stitched up. In addition, the drugstore supplied the local pig farmers with medications for pigs and horses. Many old-timers still refer to "Doc Marra" and have a story about how he helped them. Mr. Marra's
Philosophies was to get out from behind the counter and help the people.
MARRA BROTHERS 2nd GENERATION
The second generation of Marra's continued the tradition that their father started. They grew up above the Drug Store and the
Pharmacy was their living room. Both Michael and Gerard worked at the soda fountain as soda jerks until they were old enough to go to
Pharmacy school, Angelo remained in the store and later became
card and gift manager. With Mr. Marra's declining health and loss of his legs, he handed the store over to his sons in the mid- 1960's. Each of the brothers shared the duties in the store and continued the community involvement that their father "Mr. Secaucus" was known for.
In order to serve Secaucus better with a larger variety of merchandise, the Marra brothers expand the store and made it more than just a drugstore. In 1975, they expanded into the store next to the
Pharmacy in effect doubling its size. With the enlargement, the drugstore became more than a drugstore. The store added a complete Hallmark card and gift department and expanded product mix. Customer service was paramount. The late Gerard A. Marra Sr. instilled in his boys that the key to having a successful business is about customer service and helping people.
MARRA'S 3rd GENERATION
The children of the Marra Brothers have joined the cause to improve the service that the store provides. Currently the store employees
MARRA'S 4th GENERATION
When you visit us, you will see many of “Mr. Secaucus’s” great grand children working in the store.
Web site upgrade and revision by Gerard Marra IV
Marra's Drugstore is a
Pharmacy, gift and surgical business, which has a long and proud history of personal service, provided by the Marra family with deep roots in the local community, and a deep commitment to
up holding professional Pharmacy standards. The four reasons for our successful 88 years are:
1) A SINGULAR FOCUS
All our attention is devoted to making our
Pharmacy the best is can be in terms of satisfying the needs of our friends and neighbors. We are not distracted nor bound by corporate mandates. We are more flexible than a chain
Pharmacy. More responsive to our customers’ needs.
2) PERSONAL PRIDE
This is our business, our hometown; we take pride in keeping our
Pharmacy in top condition. We are proud of our staff.
3) A LONG-TERM COMMITMENT
it is very important to us not only to fulfill our customer's current needs, but also to build a relationship so they will return to us in the future. We have a long-term commitment to Secaucus. When our customers need us, we will be there.
4) A FOCUS ON FAMILIES, NOT PROFITS
In today's world of malls, franchises and chain stores that answer to stockholders, we answer to our customers. In our family-owned company, there is no pressure from the corporate headquarters to increase profits. We are here for our customers, not stockholders.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATRONAGE.
The Marra's Drug Store Family
Marra's Drug Store
1285 Paterson Plank Rd. (Marra Way)
Secaucus, New Jersey 07094