St Johns Blog

Merz Apothecary \ Q Brothers - Chicago, IL

In 1875, Chicago pharmacist Peter Merz opened a small drugstore on the city’s North Side. 

Although Merz Apothecary was a humble store, it served as a gathering place for the community.

Despite the success of the business, in 1972 Ralph Merz was ready to retire without a successor, and the store was about to close permanently. One month before the scheduled closing, a 26-year-old Indian-born pharmacist named Abdul Qaiyum walked into Merz Apothecary after hearing about it from his German in-laws. He immediately fell in love with the store. With its focus on natural remedies, Merz reminded him of his family’s business and the healing traditions in his homeland. He purchased it a few days later.

In 2014 we opened Q Brothers, a boutique space adjacent to our Lincoln Square store. The expansion also made room to create a fragrance counter with a carefully curated collection of hard-to-find, niche fragrances.

Even as we have increased in size, we have worked hard to continue being a true family-run, neighborhood business. Abdul scouts out fantastic new products to fill the shelves year-round, and assists at the pharmacy counter during the holidays. Anthony stays busy ensuring all aspects of the business are running smoothly, but can still be spotted helping customers in the store.

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