In 1935, David Shakarian realized his dream by establishing a little health food store, called Lackzoom, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shakarian's first storefront was located at 418 Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh. Lackzoom specialized in yogurt, a food that his father helped introduce in the United States, but also sold other healthy foods such as honey, grains and "healthy sandwiches."
Even though health food was thought to be a passing fad back then, people welcomed Shakarian's store. And, although his first day's receipts totaled only $35, he was able to go on to make enough money to open a second location six months later.
Disaster struck with the 1936 St. Patrick's Day flood, which wiped out both of Shakarian's stores. But he was able to reopen both locations and went on to own six Pittsburgh area stores within the next five years. The '60s decade saw many changes, and people began to embrace the concept of natural foods and better nutrition. Shakarian met the growing demand by opening stores in other states. In this process, he also changed the name of his chain to General Nutrition Centers.
As the store count continued to grow, GNC began producing its own vitamin and mineral supplements as well as foods, beverages and cosmetics. By the early 1980s, the number of GNC locations had grown to more than 1,000.
Although we lost our founder in 1984, GNC has steadfastly continued to expand upon Shakarian's dream. General Nutrition Centers, Inc. still has Pittsburgh roots, and our world headquarters is located just two blocks from the original Lackzoom storefront. Today, GNC is the largest global specialty retailer of nutritional products; including vitamin, mineral, herbal and other specialty supplements and sports nutrition, diet and energy products, GNC has more than 4,800 retail locations throughout the United States (including more than 1,000 franchise and 1,200 Rite Aid store-within-a-store locations) and franchise operations in 46 international markets.