By Jane Day
Shortly after he began dating the young nursing student from Tallmadge in the late 1940s, Herb Bumpas noticed there was no good place near her home to buy drugstore staples like film, candy bars, cigarettes or sundry items.
After the two were married, Herb decided that he and new wife, Margaret, were just the couple to fill that void in the marketplace. They opened Bumpas Drug Store in 1950 in a humble 900-square-foot storefront at 12 Southeast Avenue, just off Tallmadge Circle. Herb hired a pharmacist, focused his attention on retailing and worked 24/7 to get their business up and running.
Margaret Bumpas recalls those early days. “We both worked for two years and had $4,000 between us,” she says. “The business grew and grew from day one.”
In 1958, Bumpas acquired a second store from a druggist in Twinsburg. That store had a basement full of antiques such as apothecary bottles with amusing labels and outrageous claims, and old equipment like mortars and pestles. In 1960, Bumpas sold the Twinsburg store to fund the expansion of his Tallmadge location, but he kept the antiques and displayed them—much to the delight of his customers.
Over the years, Bumpas bought more and more antiques from old drugstores and dealers throughout the state. His collection included an oak soda fountain with a leaded glass back bar, Tiffany lamps, brass cash registers, Coca-Cola memorabilia and wall cases with gold-leaf lettered glass panels that advertised home remedies like “Perry Davis Painkiller” containing 51 percent alcohol and “Piso’s Cure for Consumption.”
Margaret used her knack for buying gifts, souvenirs and collectables to grow the store’s gift business. The store, renamed Bumpas Emporium and Drugstore, sold Precious Moments and Hummels, and carried everything from jewelry and leather goods to crystal, copper, silver and brass.
In its heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, Bumpas was a destination—occupying 14,000 feet of retail space and employing more than 45 people. Bus tours made stops there to shop and see the antiques. Locals from neighboring communities made regular trips to Bumpas to buy the latest gifts and collectibles. The Victorian-style emporium and plaza next door—refurbished by the Bumpas family—were picturesque landmarks on the historic Circle.
Herb Bumpas died in 1990, and Margaret sold the store seven years later. Their former property is now home to the Grotto on the Circle restaurant with a banquet room appropriately named Bumpas Hall.