General Merchandise/HBC

Walgreens Walk-Thru

Photo Tour: Drug-store giant opens doors to new, upscale look

CHICAGO -- Walgreens' decision to start its upscale look in downtown Chicago is an obvious choice. In the hub of the city's retail, theater and hotel district, the area is swarming with high-end clientele.

Just how far this initial incarnation will proliferate over the chain's more than 7,500 stores remains to be seen, but in the meantime, CSP Daily News took a walk through about a month after its winter grand opening to see where wellness and convenience collide.

Watch the photo tour below.

  • 30-foot gondola of freshness. As the customer first walks in off Randolph and State, the initial eye-catcher is a prominent gondola featuring sushi chefs, working behind an open cooler of grab-and-go sushi, sandwiches and wraps.
  • Yogurt machine. Veering left and moving down, one spots a yogurt machine.
  • Bakery cabinet. The next display is a standard bakery cabinet filled with fancy pastries, doughnuts, croissants and rolls.
  • Sampling. A station for employees to give samples sits across from the bakery.
  • Breakfast options. Fruit cups and sausage sandwiches highlight the breakfast corner.
  • Fresh-made juices. The juice bar holds down the far end of the gondola, with three staffers making fresh juice from watermelons, pineapples and other ingredients.
  • Breads. French rolls and other breads contribute to the bountiful look.
  • Salads. A full line of salad options packaged as single meals sit ready for customers.
  • Sandwiches and wraps. Grab-and-go sandwiches and wraps bring the customer full circle.
  • Convenience items. Traditional c-store items such as snacks, chips and single-serve beverages take up significant shelf and cooler space.
  • Grocery, home-meal replacement. More substantial frozen and refrigerated meals as well as staples such as milk and eggs have a presence as well.
  • Wine, beer and more. A third of the first floor is devoted to wine and spirits, with a high-impact display of wine bottles on moving conveyors drawing attention to the sales space. A display island of cheeses and deli meats complete the department.
  • Drug store. Upstairs is where the drug-store identity returns. Greeting cards, toiletries, household goods and the pharmacy are housed here. Numerous personnel and a high-tech iPad setup with a contemporary design highlight the upgraded drug and pharmaceutical area.
  • Beauty. The store also indulges in its cosmetics and beauty-care department, with large displays and a makeup center catering to the chain's female demographic.

While retaining its drug-store image, Walgreens appears bent on taking a bite out of the convenience channel, marketing the kinds of goods and foodservice that are core to c-store profits. Only time will tell how the competition for market share will end.

Walgreens is a Deerfield, Ill.-based drug-store retailer with recent fiscal reports showing its strongest increase in net income in a decade and the largest growth in earnings per share in more than 15 years.

For more on Walgreens' new look and what it means to the c-store industry, check out the cover story by Angel Abcede and Abbie Westra in the March 2012 issue of CSP magazine (or see Related Content below).

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