John Haronian '12

Wine & Spirits Retail Consultants, Inc.

Award Profile

Courageous Thinking & Action
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, John Haronian received his early education in the city,
subsequently earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of Rhode
Island in 1958. After years of owning drug stores, eye-care facilities and his latest ventures in
the Wine & Spirits industry, Mr. Haronian has faced many obstacles along the way. When the
State of Rhode Island decided to strictly enforce the age-old laws relating to liquor stores, John decided it was time to stand up for his freedom of speech. In an attempt to bring fairness to the advertising of liquor stores, John took his case all the way to the United States Supreme
Court in 1991. On May 13, 1996, the Court handed down its unanimous verdict supporting the
First Amendment –free speech protection for advertisers. John’s action and strong belief for
freedom of speech led to the abolishment of Rhode Island’s ban on advertised pricing for all
small businesses in the RI liquor industry.

Vision & Innovation
Through his many career paths and with a true entrepreneurial spirit, John has achieved much
success in his life. He started Douglas Drug in 1965 and when he sold the chain in 1990,
Douglas Drug had advanced from a small neighborhood store to a “super drugstore” with
locations in three states, over 800 employees and sales of $70 million annually. As Chairman of
the Board for Vision World, John turned a small eye-care facility into an eight store chain with
sales of $6.5 million annually. With his latest venture, Wine & Spirits Retail Consultants, Inc.,
John is the President of a franchise/consulting firm that works with 19 stores in two states with volume exceeding $60 million annually and is ever expanding.

Inspiring Leadership
At 79 years of age, John Haronian is an inspiration in the business world. His wisdom,
determination and sheer will to succeed are inspiring. First and foremost, John is a modern day
business man. In his many career paths, he has continued to advance in all fields, always
following the latest trends and newest technology. As President of Wine & Spirit Retail
Consultants, Inc., John uses his knowledge from past endeavors to inspire not only his
employees, but other small business owners as well. People are able to see the success John
has created, and continues to help create for local wine & spirits stores, and approach him
every day for advice and assistance with their own companies. He is never too busy to help
those looking to better their lives through hard work and determination.

Community Mindedness
Over the years John has been a huge supporter of local charities and non-profits. From Bradley
Hospital, Junior Achievement and Federal Hill House in his Douglas Drug days to A Wish Come
True, St. Jude’s Hospital, Zoobilee, Fogarty Center, Opportunities Unlimited and more in recent
years, his belief is to give back to the community. As a father of three and grandfather of four,
John has a special place in his heart for the children of the community through support of nonprofits that provide services to underprivileged kids to fundraisers for terminally ill children.
There is never a request to large or too far out of reach for John to contribute to. He is a Board
Member for Junior Achievement and Federal Hill House, organizations that believe in helping
the children of Rhode Island to achieve success and overcome personal setbacks.

JA Mission Moment
When you ask John about his work and time with JA he is able to recall many fond memories.
To this day, he will tell you, he can be in the grocery store and a young man or woman will
approach him. They simply ask if he is John Haronian and proceed to tell him how he taught JA
at their school and how fondly they remember the experience. John jokes about his tactics to
get the children interested. “I used to drive a cherry red Ferrari. I would bring it to school that
day and park it right out in front. When I told the kids about myself and how I came from the
same neighborhoods they had and achieved success in my many fields, they would look at me
very hesitantly. I would tell them to go to the window and look outside at my beautiful car and
suddenly they would realize that with hard work and determination, they too could grow up to
be anything they dreamed of and there were no limits to their success.” For more than thirty
years John’s work with JA continues. He serves as a member of the board of directors,
participates in and sponsors JA events and volunteers teaching JA programs to young people.