Walgreens Breaks Ground On New Store In November

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The Payson Walgreens drugstore, which opened in November 1987, is about to see construction launched on its new, long-awaited, freestanding home complete with double drive-through pharmacy windows on the southwest corner of the Beeline/Highway 260 intersection.

Construction of the 15,120-square-foot store, which will be 1,802 square feet larger than the current store in the Bashas' shopping center, will begin "around November 1," according to Payson Walgreens' manager, Cliff Wilembrecht. If all goes well, the new building will be up and open by June 1, 2003, he added.

"We've found that when we relocate an existing store from a strip location to a free-standing corner location, sales increase between 20 to 30 percent," said Carol Hively, a media specialist for the drugstore chain. "We currently have 192 stores in Arizona, and we'll continue to expand statewide. It's our goal to have 250 stores statewide by the year 2004."

"Thank God it's finally happening," Wilembrecht said. "We've just outgrown this facility. And the new building will be something nice and fresh for the community. It will look just like the stores down in the Valley."

In addition to the drive-through pharmacy, the new store will feature "a nicer, larger photo-developing area," Wilembrecht said. "We'll have expanded footage in some other departments, too; we don't know which ones yet. But for the most part, a lot of that extra space will be consumed by wider and more open aisles."

One loss, Wilembrecht added, my be the store's liquor department.

"We don't know if that's 100 percent sure," he said. "It has always been a possibility ... The company's new thing right now is that they want more of a family image. Some stores which move into new buildings keep their liquor departments, and some don't. It's a 50-50 shot."

All in all, Wilembrecht concluded, what the new Walgreens store will offer his Rim country customers is "an improved shopping experience. It'll be nicer, cleaner, more modern, brighter looking, and easier to shop."

According to Hively, the reason Walgreens is building a new store instead of refurbishing the current facility in the Payson Village Shopping Center, can be chalked up to the company's most recent business strategy of maximizing store access by building stand-alone stores in high-traffic areas.

"Typically, our customers purchase one or two items and spend no more than about six minutes in the store. So access really makes a huge difference in the success of the store," she said.

Founded in 1901 in a building measuring just 50 feet by 20 feet, Walgreens grew to more than 500 stores by 1930. The chain currently operates more than 3,420 stores across the nation.

Other Walgreens facts:

Walgreen Co. reached $28.7 billion in sales during fiscal 2002 making it the nation's largest drugstore chain and 11th largest retailer. The company operates 3,884 drugstores in 43 states and Puerto Rico.

A typical Walgreens store is 14,500 square feet, which includes 11,000 square feet of sales area, and carries more than 20,000 consumable items and necessities. Each unit employs 25 to 30 people and averages $6.8 million in annual sales. Nationwide, Walgreens drugstores serve 3 million customers daily.

2001 marked the company's 27th consecutive year of record sales and earnings. Fiscal 2002 results will be announced Sept. 30. Fortune magazine ranks Walgreens as the 78th largest company in America.

During the past five years, 2,094 drugstores were opened or remodeled more than half of all existing Walgreens stores. Walgreens opened 471 drugstores during fiscal 2002, which ended Aug. 31. The company plans to open 475 stores in 2003.

More than 70 percent of the chain is free-standing and more than 2,880 stores offer drive-through prescription service. Over 3,800 offer one-hour photo finishing. The average age of a Walgreens store today is 6.0 years, far less than half what it was 10 years ago.

Intercom Plus, Walgreens' advanced pharmacy system, allows the pharmacist to spend more time counseling patients on their medicines. Other patient benefits include tax/insurance records and patient profiles. Where state law allows, Intercom Plus also permits "prescription transferability" so you can get refills at Walgreens stores other than the one where you first bought your medication, even if it's in another state.

At www.walgreens.com, customers can order prescription refills and non-prescription items, access their personal prescription profile and research health information provided by the Mayo Clinic.

In April 2002, Walgreens became the first drugstore chain to offer prescription labels in multiple languages chain wide. Labels can be printed in one of eight languages.

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