Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Manicures and Made-to-Order Sushi…at Walgreens?

Believe it.
CHICAGO -- Today marks the grand-opening of a new “flagship” location for the nation’s largest chain of drugstores. Chicago-based Walgreens has returned to the corner of Randolph and State, a location where it operated a store between 1926 and 2005. The 2-story, 27,000 square foot concept boasts an exclusive collection of innovative offerings unexpected at a drugstore.
Erik Unger / Chicago Business
"This store brings together our most innovative, forward-thinking initiatives under one stunning roof," said Walgreens President and CEO Greg Wasson. "Just as we did with our store here in the 1920s, we're again offering the ultimate in service, convenience, assortment and community pharmacy. Customers will be delighted by a drugstore unlike anything they've ever experienced." (source: BusinessWire)
Innovations include:
Food and Drink
Food offerings can feel like an afterthought at traditional drugstores. At Walgreens’ “Up Market,” there are hundreds of fresh food items designed for life on the go. With made-to-order Smoothie and Sushi bars, self-serve frozen yogurt, and Baristas brewing exclusive State & Randolph brand coffee, the new Walgreens feels more like a boutique grocer.
Jose M. Osorio/ Chicago Tribune
And with a sheik, modern wine room boasting more than 700 labels, patrons have at their fingertips everything necessary to get the party started.

Self-taken. I find the wine conveyor belt at the top entrancing to watch...
Health and Beauty
The new store debuts “LOOK Boutique;” a concept boasting on-site beauty advisors and dozens of niche cosmetics, skin and hair care brands not typically found in drugstores. Additional prestige comes from an on-site manicurist and eyebrow-shaping station. And at the “Virtual Makeover” kiosk, Walgreens gives customers the ability to “try on” new cosmetic shades and styles virtually.
Jose M. Osorio/ Chicago Tribune
Pharmacy and Clinic
Encouraging greater interaction between pharmacists and patients is an on-going trend. Here, it’s taken to a whole new level. Armed with iPads and virtual health apps, the new pharmacy makes navigating a wide range of health and wellness products, services, and resources easy. The pharmacist is pulled from behind the glass and seated at a welcoming, “Ask Your Pharmacist” desk. The enhanced, open space now includes consultation rooms, “Express Rx” kiosks for fast checkout and even a multi-purpose area for hosting health-oriented community events.  The “Take Care” clinic is equipped to handle immunizations, basic diagnoses and treatments.
Erik Unger / Chicago Business
There’s Already One on Every Corner...
The market for drugstores in the U.S. has reached maturity. To grow same-store sales without cannibalizing traffic at next-closest locations requires the drugstore concept to be reimagined. By enhancing both the breadth and depth of products offered, drugstores must show patrons that they’ve grown to carry more than mere ‘essentials.’
Walgreens focused last month’s holiday commercials on generating precisely that type of awareness. The 30-second spots explored the notion that Walgreens was a less-crowded and -hectic, yet viable holiday shopping alternative to big box competitors like Wal-Mart and Target.  
From drugstore to “daily living” destination
The store at Randolph and State definitely raises the bar for drugstore retailing and sets Walgreens apart from its competitors. And although I wouldn’t expect the concept to be rolled out on a large scale, it remains a physical manifestation of Walgreens intent to expand beyond the traditional perceptions of what a drugstore can be.
The new flagship store is certain to erode market share from boutique retailers and grocers alike, as well as area fast-dining establishments and stat care units.
Are you intrigued yet?
Self-taken. I wonder why "CVS" isn't on the list? They have quite the presence here as well. ;)
If you’re planning a visit to the Windy City this year, be sure to swing by the new store! It’s right next to Macy’s!

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