Retail News Breaks
Rite Aid marks first marketwide conversion
May 8th, 2013
WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – Greater Buffalo has become the first market in which Rite Aid Corp. has converted the majority of its outlets to its “wellness store” format.
The Rite Aid store in Williamsville, N.Y., was converted to the wellness format in February.
The drug chain said it has converted nearly 100 stores in the greater Buffalo, N.Y., area to the wellness format.
As of the end of the company's 2013 fiscal year in early March, there were 797 wellness stores overall. Plans call for another 400 stores to be remodeled to the wellness concept in fiscal 2014.
Rite Aid executives — including chairman, president and chief executive officer John Standley; chief operating officer Ken Martindale; and senior vice president of marketing John Learish — marked the milestone for the wellness store concept in a ceremony Wednesday at the wellness store in Williamsville, N.Y.
Fitness expert Denise Austin, whose Forever Fit line of home exercise equipment is offered exclusively at Rite Aid, also participated in the event.
Introduced in 2011, the wellness format features an enhanced selection of wellness products and resources, advanced clinical pharmacy services and personalized customer product guidance provided by "wellness ambassadors." The ambassadors enhance the customer experience through service and bridge the front end and pharmacy.
"Our Buffalo ‘Road to Wellness’ began in 2009, when we selected it as one of four markets to pilot our wellness+ customer loyalty program," said Martindale, who is also president of the Rite Aid Foundation. "As the leading drug store chain in the greater Buffalo area, it’s only fitting that we’re here today celebrating another milestone in our company’s history. Over the past two years we’ve invested millions of dollars as we’ve remodeled our Rite Aid pharmacies across the region to help Buffalonians be well."
At the Williamsville store, Rite Aid COO Ken Martindale (left) and CEO John Standley (right) presented a $25,000 grant to Buffalo's Cradle Beach organization.
Also on Wednesday, Rite Aid launched a summerlong series of wellness events at stores throughout the Buffalo area.
Later this month selected stores across Buffalo will host free diabetes screenings, the first of several free wellness events. June events include skin cancer screenings, followed by July and August events focused on senior wellness and heart health. Brochures will be available in every store with a full listing of events, times and locations.
"We know our customers across Buffalo trust and count on us as a partner in helping them live healthier, happier lives," Martindale said. "Bringing our wellness store format to the market was a great first step, and we’ll continue to explore new ways to deliver on our mission of improving the health and wellness of our communities through engaging experiences that provide our customers with the best products, services and advice to achieve their individual wellness goals."
With a remodeling that was finished in February, the Williamsville Rite Aid has a completely new look and feel, the company said.
Customers will more easily find what they are looking for, thanks to a more inviting layout and clear signage. There’s a direct path to the pharmacy counter, which has been cleared of merchandise and has an eye-catching design so that it embodies Rite Aid’s dedication to wellness while encouraging conversations between pharmacists and patients. The store also features a relaxing, warm color palette accented by wood tones.
Other key characteristics of the format include expanded merchandise offerings centered on wellness, such as gluten-free and organic food; Forever Fit, Rite Aid’s line of at-home fitness equipment created by Austin; and clinical pharmacy services including a private consultation room next to the pharmacy counter for private conversations and immunizations.
Further demonstrating the company’s commitment to Buffalo, the Rite Aid Foundation on Wednesday presented grants to two local charities serving the health and well-being of children in the community.
Cradle Beach, which serves 1,100 disabled and disadvantaged children in the Buffalo area annually, received a $25,000 grant from the Rite Aid Foundation to expand its Project S.O.A.R. school-based and summer programming to third through fifth graders at Southside Elementary School next year.
The foundation also awarded a $10,000 grant to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western New York, which will use the grant to provide short- and long-term housing to families with children being treated at Buffalo-area hospitals.
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