Inside This Issue - News
Lewis Drugs breaks mold of ‘cookie-cutter drug stores’
January 3rd, 2011
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Lewis Drugs has debuted its “store of the future” here, a 40,000-square-foot unit with an upscale decor, diverse consumables and general merchandise, and even a climate-controlled Four Seasons garden wing with a retractable roof.
Earth tones, wood flooring, eco-friendly construction and high-end brands give the outlet more of a department store or specialty store look and feel than that of a conventional drug store. Reinforcing the upscale ambiance is Lewis’ first beauty boutique.
“We wanted to break the mold of the cookie-cutter chain drug store,” says Lewis president and chief executive officer Mark Griffin. “Having had this real estate for six years or so, we had the chance to do something different — really different.”
The glass-enclosed Four Seasons is a 4,000-square-foot garden center that last month featured live Christmas trees from growers in Michigan and Wisconsin. The department has a 14-foot Plexiglass roof that is computerized to automatically open to let in sunlight and close when it senses a drop in barometric pressure — before it starts raining or snowing.
Adopted from Canada, the concept is new to the upper Midwest, Griffin says. It allows one to shop in winter with a feeling of being outdoors, but “protected from the elements, in comfort, with no wind,” he says.
Another signature department is an upgraded, stylized electronics section with 10 flat-screen televisions, in sizes ranging from 20 inches to 55 inches, on display.
The 3,000 square feet of groceries make that section “almost like a small supermarket,” says Griffin. The department caters to the residential neighborhood with milk, bread, frozen food and Lewis’ first walk-in cooler. The all-glass cooler has a wide range of beverages, from wine to minikegs of beer to soft drinks. And outside the cooler are $100,000 worth of spirits.
“We customized the selection of the entire store, but probably the department that was affected the most is grocery,” Griffin notes.
A home goods department includes decorations, kitchen tables and chairs, lamps, and lounge chains. Brands include Ashley and Lane. Home decor is one of Lewis’ fastest-growing categories, Griffin says.
The kitchenware area has been enhanced with prestige brands including Cuisinart and KitchenAid, and such trendy items as single-cup coffee makers. The department is laid out like a kitchen island, with a look and product assortment similar to what someone would have at home. With a granite-like decor, “it looks like a kitchen counter,” which contributes to a boutique theme, Griffin says.
With young families predominating in the immediate area, the store has an expanded toy selection. And holiday decor included blow-up Santa figurines and sleighs inflated with fans.
“A lot of retailers do this for regions,” Griffin says of the store’s customization. “We do it for parts of town. We really focus and rifle-shoot product selection to cater to the neighborhood. Even in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you have different demographics in different parts of town and you need to capitalize.”
The pharmacy maintains the boutique theme with a wood plank floor, a lounge area with flat-screen televisions for viewing and free coffee. “It’s set aside a bit from the store to almost give it its own environment,” Griffin remarks.
Asked how the store has been doing since its November 15 opening, he says, “So far so great.”
Over Black Friday weekend the outlet sold hundreds of flat-screen televisions, he notes.
Last month the momentum continued with a Sunday block party. Invitations with one-day gift certificates were mailed to everyone in the neighborhood and on the store’s prescription file. The event included free samples, children’s activities and a goody bag distribution. “It’s all about investing in the neighborhood,” says Griffin.
And the long-term prospects for the store are promising, considering that it sits on seven acres that will be home to a medical clinic.