Posted: June 13, 2007


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

A year after folding Happy Harry's drug store chain into Walgreens' nationwide operation, Alan B. Levin is leaving the pharmacy business for a new entrepreneurial endeavor, which may or may not have any bearing on the decision he is mulling about running as a Republican for governor.

Although Levin had an arrangement with Walgreens to stay for three years, he is cutting it short as of July 6 to form Alan Levin & Associates, a firm that will provide marketing assistance to start-up businesses in Delaware.

Levin announced his change of plans Tuesday in an e-mail to Happy Harry's workers.

"There was very little for me to do here unless I was willing to move to Chicago, and clearly I wasn't willing to do that. They need to have people dealing with the future, and I represent the past," Levin said Wednesday morning in a telephone interview.

"I'm not looking for anything other than to have fun and help people."

He said he will continue to do radio ads for Happy Harry's. After all, this is not a good time to be walking away from public attention.

Levin's swerve in his business pursuit comes as politics is beckoning with Republican Party leaders urging him to run for governor in 2008, a race currently dominated by the rivalry of Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr. and Treasurer Jack A. Markell for the Democratic nomination.

Levin said he has been planning to leave Walgreens since February, regardless of what happens in politics, and is not ready to decide about the election for governor. It cannot hurt, however, that he will be immersing himself in economic development, expected to be a prime issue.

Levin already is known for expanding Happy Harry's from 17 to 76 stores and 250 to 2,600 employees since taking over in 1987 after the death of "Happy Harry" Levin, his father who founded the chain. Alan Levin left politics to come back to the family business. He was the chief aide to U.S. Sen. William V. Roth Jr. in the 1980s.

Levin will be joined in his new firm by Thomas Salvatore, who was Happy Harry's chief financial officer and now serves as the interim director for the Woodlawn Trustees, a conservation organization that preserves land along the Brandywine River.

The office will be in Newport in a corporate complex at Delaware 4 and Larch Avenue, putting it in the middle of a political corridor linked by Delaware 141 from Republican state headquarters in The Cannery on Lancaster Pike in Wilmington to Democratic state headquarters in East Corporate Commons in New Castle.

Levin seems very much aware of his proximity to politics as he described the office townhouse that will be his new base.

"Is it suitable for other things?" he teased. Asked whether he meant a campaign headquarters, he quipped, "Is that what it's called?"