What does 'CVS' stand for?

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(NEXSTAR) – In all likelihood, very few of us have pondered what “CVS” actually stands for. As long as we can buy laundry detergent, Twix, and a tube of topical rash cream in the same place, we’re fairly content.

But now that the question is out there, what exactly does CVS stand for?

CVS, the country’s largest pharmacy chain, was founded in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1963. But visitors to the Lowell shop may have noticed signage welcoming them to the “Consumer Value Store” — the first of more than a dozen to open in the following year.

Even the earliest locations, however, were embracing the CVS acronym. By 1964, the company developed a shield logo with the letters “CVS” in the center (and “Consumer Value Stores” spelled out above, alongside or underneath). In fact, much of the stores’ signage throughout the ‘60s featured the acronym, according to a representative for CVS.

The first CVS logo — a shield containing the letters “CVS” — is displayed on the wall of a shop in the 1960s. (CVS Health)

The company was sold in 1969 to the Melville Corporation, a retail holding company which began as a chain of shoe stores before acquiring brands such as Marshalls, K.B. Toys and Linens n’ Things among dozens of others between the 1920s and the 1990s. But even by Melville’s 1969 acquisition of CVS, the chain was already primarily known as CVS rather than Consumer Value Stores, though the latter was still used for official purposes in Melville’s annual reports “at least through 1975,” a CVS spokesperson confirmed.

CVS shoppers likely haven’t seen “Consumer Value Stores” in any commercials or consumer-facing materials since. The shortened “CVS,” too, was pretty much cemented as the company’s official name in 1996, after the Melville Corporation sold off all its holdings — apart from CVS — and reorganized as the CVS Corporation (and later, the CVS Caremark Corporation).

“We very rarely spell out ‘Consumer Value Stores’ these days — really only in the historical context,” a spokesperson for CVS said.

Within the past decade, CVS has made only a few additional tweaks to its brand identity. In 2014, around the time that CVS outlets discontinued the sale of cigarettes, the company’s corporate name was changed to CVS Health Corporation, and CVS began using its current heart logo.

Most customers, of course, probably failed to notice these changes during our CVS trips for detergents, candy or rash ointment. After all, we’re fairly content if our clothes are clean, our Twix cravings are satiated, and the swelling keeps subsiding.



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