Duane Reade: Not The Neighborhood Drug Store Anymore

For those who remember the traditional drug stores from the 1960’s, the new Duane Reade Drug Store, located at 40 Wall Street in New York City, has to be quite a shock to your traditional concept of a place where you can get your  prescription  filled or purchase some favorite toiletries and tooth paste. It has been a long time since the soda fountain was a staple in neighborhood drug stores.  For decades now it has been common to find pharmaceuticals sharing the spot light and shelf space with everything from personal care items to candy, cards and carry home snacks and beverages. The new Duane Reade in New York City stretches the concept beyond what any of us could have expected from the practiced, tired and well established drug retailers of the last four decades.

The new Manhattan Reade’s, which replaces the World Trade Center store destroyed on September 11, 2001, encompasses 22,000 square feet of space and is the 254th store under the Duane Reade flag. Duane Reade president Joe Magnacca said, “This is our learning store,” and in anticipation of its reopening “it was the right time to come home”.

The new store features innovations like; “Find Your Look,” a computer that takes your photo, lets you scan in makeup items, then retouches your photo to show how you would look in those products; an in-store salon offering blowouts for $35 to $45 dollars (an unthinkably low price for pricey Manhattan); a juice bar where employees whip up made-to-order $4.99 smoothies; a Coca-Cola machine that dispenses 130 drinks at the touch of a computer screen and refrigerated cases filled with New York-centric foods like pastrami from the Carnegie Deli, Zabar sandwiches and glass-bottled Ronnybrook milk.

If that is not enough to challenge your apothecary shopping expectations, how about Justin and Steven Song, Duane Reade’s resident Sushi Chiefs who will whip up fresh offerings  while you wait for the professional pharmacy staff to  fill your prescription or give you a Flu shot. The new sushi bar will be staffed by two sushi chefs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. They’ll hand-make sushi to order, including spicy tuna rolls or salmon avocado rolls for $6.99.

Walgreens completed its deal to acquire 257 Duane Reade stores in the metro New York area and the acquisition is credited with adding 3% to the rise in Walgreens revenues in the first month, and helped boost overall sales, which cashed in at $5.7 billion. The Duane Reade New York City stores are anything BUT your average neighborhood Walgreen’s, but Joe Magnacca still  looks forward to the opportunity to share some of the more successful concepts of his new store with other Walgreen’s and Duane Reade locations.

The message the new store at 40 Wall Street is sending to the marketing world is “Up Market”, and while this location is unique, even to the extreme, the company is forging a strategy that will allow the chain to become more geared toward specific neighborhoods and focused on connecting more effectively with its customers. If you are in NYC, it’s worth a visit!

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