Duane Reade Opens ‘Most Exciting Drugstore in the World’

Discussion
Jul 06, 2011

Things are different on Wall Street than they are on Main Street. Understanding that, it makes sense that a drugstore serving the financial district in downtown Manhattan would be different than what you find it other places. That’s where Duane Reade comes in.

The division of Walgreens is opening a new 22,000 square-foot flagship store today at 40 Wall Street, a historic building that at one time was the tallest building in the world.

According to The New York Times, Joe Magnacca, president of Duane Reade, said, “We believe it’s the most exciting drugstore in the world.”

The new location comes with a variety of departments and services not found in a typical Duane Reade including:


  • A “Virtual Assistant” that utilizes holographic imaging to create the illusion of a real person who introduces consumers to all that the store has to offer;
  • “Doctor On Premises,” an in-store clinic staffed by MDs;
  • An expanded beauty department with a LOOK Boutique offering before/after virtual makeovers;
  • Hair salons and nail salons;
  • Shoe shine;
  • Fresh food market including organic fruits and veggies, sandwiches, salads;
  • Juice and smoothie bar;
  • Starbucks coffee and bakery counter;
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain that dispenses 130 types of beverages;
  • 20-foot official NYSE in-store ticker.

“The fresh and healthy food offerings will be un-paralleled within the drugstore industry,” said Paul Tiberio, senior vice president of merchandising & chief marketing officer for Duane Reade, in a press release. “As our customers shop across fewer retailers, we have positioned 40 Wall Street to best service the ‘need-it-now’ trips of the area’s growing residential and professional populations, offering an ‘up market’ fresh food proposition and their one-stop shop solution.”

Discussion Questions: What is your reaction to the new Duane Reade flagship store? Is this a format that could be successful in other locations or is it strictly a Wall Street store?

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20 Comments on "Duane Reade Opens ‘Most Exciting Drugstore in the World’"

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Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
6 years 4 months ago

Not only is it a state of the art event in a media-driven city, but the ability to use this as a testing ground for local products, food to go and in-house services will give it a benchmark to take to other cities and formats.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

Can I just say I want that kind of store in my suburban area? I am hard-pressed to see why this format would not work in many locations, especially those that serve shoppers who haven’t been “delighted” by retailers in a very long time.

Ron Margulis
BrainTrust

This really doesn’t sound like a drug store, but an urban supermarket with a pharmacy. The mental image I get is part Whole Foods store in Chelsea, part Pret a Manger, part hotel lobby (or train station) and part Duane Reade store. I like the idea and think it can be successfully deployed in other urban areas because of convenience, service and location. The convenience element is clear–shoppers who would otherwise need to go to three or four stores during their lunch break can do it all in one. Service is also clear–there are five offerings in the press release that would have some kind of human or automated assistance. Location is critical–Wall Street is underserved in terms of grocery outlets, with the nearest decent supermarkets in TriBeCa some 10+ blocks north. The one thing I would worry about is the checkout process. A slow checkout will ruin the whole experience for the shopper “in a New York minute.”

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

I don’t think that Duane Reade is planning to lather, rinse, repeat on this concept. Every element described is a micro-lab experiment that may (or may not) eventually find its way into your neighborhood Duane Reade OR Walgreens. Retail watchers need to get out of the mindset that every new store opening is a format template. Despite the name on the door (or the holographic image), terminal uniqueness is the new rule.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

Many retailers put up a “flagship” or “signature” store in Manhattan–preferably Times Square. This is a slightly different take on that approach, spicing up a store with traditional utilities to fit the scene versus something like an M&M’s Store. The concept is fun, makes headlines and gets talked about–but they typically are not expandable. The one difference for DR is that they may play with some technology or offerings that can be expanded to other high-end, urban locations across the Walgreens chain.

Roger Saunders
BrainTrust

Walgreens/Duane Reade are offering something “fresh” and “innovative” for the consumer. That’s often easy enough to do for a Grand Opening. Their challenge might fall in the area of keeping that characteristic in play on an ongoing basis.

The format is one that doesn’t sound as if it will be an easily translatable plan-o-gram to multiple locations (probably a limited need to devote space to a 20 foot NYSE ticker in Silicon Valley, but perhaps that model scales “down” to a new interactive device). What Duane Reade/Walgreens should be able to learn and apply to other locations are the merchandise allocations that can deliver on customer wants/needs, and enhanced store profitability–then put the Best Practices in play at future sites.

Kudos to Duane Reade for stepping up, and giving consumers a reason and shop their format. Sharp move.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

Not something that can be duplicated as a complete entity, but bits and pieces can be used in different locations.

Kevin Graff
BrainTrust

Who amongst us won’t want to visit this store when we are in New York? I love the way retailers are pushing the boundaries more often (although, not frequently enough). Lessons learned from this flagship will hopefully be applied not just by DR, but by those retailers smart enough to visit this location.

David Biernbaum
BrainTrust

I like where Duane Reade is going with this “most exciting drug store in the world” on all levels. The best part is the hype. That’s right. The hype all by itself brings a certain attention and excitement to the Duane Reade brand.

Geoffrey Igharo
Guest
Geoffrey Igharo
6 years 4 months ago

Duane Reade can easily duplicate this concept with no change in the downtown business area of probably a good 15-20 major American cities. All you’re looking for is busy people in central business districts with concentration of both localised daytime foot traffic and high income.

Bits and pieces of the concept can also be used to improve or customize hundreds of smaller drugstores as well.

This is just part of the ongoing convergence of the drugstores and convenience store store concept in American cities. It’s been going on for a long time–and this where the chain drugstores have really been getting their growth from: eating up the traditional space of mom & pop convenience stores and small service businesses like photo shops, etc.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

This type of super store can only succeed in certain markets and locations. Wall Street is certainly one of those locations.

Roy White
Guest
Roy White
6 years 4 months ago
Joe Magnacca is right: This is the most exciting drug store on the planet! It does all the things that a modern chain drug store ought to be doing and then some to fit its particular location. It is also a very large store for Manhattan. At 23,000 sq. ft., it’s a good 7,-8,000 ft. larger than any other drug store on the island. This is a variable space with several levels. The building, being a Landmark and thus protected, cannot be altered, and DR design team worked within that constraint. According the Duane Reade executives, they are used to shoehorning their footprint into different spaces, and they did well with this one. The central part of the store, and the first thing that the customer encounters, is a vast food court. This certainly is within the trend in chain drug stores, but it does go a step further by offering full lunch capability in addition to the standard beverages (including beer here), cookies, canned goods and snacks. When entering from the Wall Street side, the customer is greeted with sandwiches and other lunch foods. From Pine Street, the first thing the customer hits is sushi. Next to the sushi… Read more »
Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

People will push each other over to get into this store. It will be particularly interesting to see which of the innovation laboratories in this store have the best outcomes. Can we get an update 6 months from now?

Tonia Key
Guest
Tonia Key
6 years 4 months ago
That format can be duplicated across Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx and would do very well if properly stocked and maintained. Every New Yorker, commuter and frequent traveler to NYC shops at a Duane Reade at some point. It’s definitely part of the New York experience. What Duane Reade needs to do is get rid of that nasty DeLish private label stuff and bring back the brands. They’ve succeeded in finally curtailing my shopping there because they have replaced lots of things I’d normally buy there with all of their private label stuff. Their private labels are not up to snuff. I used to be in Duane Reade once or twice a week and now don’t even want to think about how much I used to spend at their stores. I now only stop in once a month to refill prescriptions and may or may not make an additional purchase. Duane Reade also completely did away with a lot of items in a lot of locations with their store remodels. That has turned a lot of us off. What used to be one-stop shopping for a bulk of needs now begrudgingly necessitates trips to various locations to get the very… Read more »
Jeff Hall
BrainTrust

Congratulations to Duane Reade for infusing this new flagship location with such innovative thinking and design. I can’t wait to see it in person, as it appears to be a creative convergence of several experiential, entertaining and immersive elements. If the new Duane Reade customer experience is executed with consistency, it will be a winner.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

Duane Reade has been increasing the number of products and services it provides in Manhattan. Their store on 57th Street and 2nd Avenue looks more like a Target…including the fresh food now available in many Targets. And Duane Reade is undergoing a new “look” outside and inside, fresh, attractive and overall appealing.

The trend seems to be availability of a wide and wider array of products and services from each and every retailer associated with health and beauty aids and food…add fresh foods, household products, apparel, office supplies, medical services (flu shots), etc. Consumers can enjoy the convenience and worry about the prices later. But I suspect the value for the money will come into play eventually and then we’ll have a better handle on how each retailer’s investment sustains itself.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Bravo, Duane Reade! It appears that you have created a shopping environment that is not only fun and interesting to shop but also fits with today’s consumer dynamics. I can imagine aspects of this format incorporated into certain Walgreens stores across the nation…not just Wall Street or urban settings.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Slow news day? I don’t want to be unsupportive–as always I wish them the best–but I don’t see anything here that seems unique to Wall Street (save perhaps for the stock ticker); in fact most of the amenities sound like expanded versions of what is offered at many drug stores in downtown areas all over the country. OTOH, the “growler bar” sounds really exciting! George, how could you leave out mention of that?

Carlos Arambula
BrainTrust

Walgreens presented the concept during the NACDS Marketplace convention in Boston a week ago.

It reminded me of the large pharmacies outside of the US where one can purchase business clothing essentials (like ties and shirts) and eat lunch while waiting for your prescription to be filled.

It’s a tremendous concept that will help revitalize a tired franchise. Walgreens was very smart in co-branding the store and keeping the 50 year old New York brand (Duane Reade) alive.

The format can work in similar locations in Manhattan where time is at a premium, and I believe this concept will also work outside of Manhattan–in other major metro centers.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
6 years 4 months ago

Great location. Lots of amenities and services under one roof. An urban, busy consumer. And even a charitable component with the shoe shine offering. This store has plenty going for it and will likely prove a success.

But it’s unlikely we’ll see many (if any) Duane Reade stores on this scale in other areas. As a flagship, it works great for testing various store offerings and then perhaps rolling out the best individual solutions to other locations. But repeating this entire store would only work in a handful of locations, i.e., major urban environments like downtown Chicago, perhaps Las Vegas.

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