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Lewis Drug’s unique front-end offering

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One of the distinguishing features of Lewis Drug is the array and variety of products in its front end.

The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based regional drug chain’s large-format stores offer just about everything shoppers in the community might need — from barbecue grills to tools, sporting goods to spirits, outdoor furniture to clothing, gifts for adults and children to the company’s crown jewel, the expansive lawn and garden center.

Lewis operates two store formats: traditional drug stores, mostly in rural areas, and larger, multidepartment stores, where pharmacy and other core drug store offerings are complemented by an extensive selection of food and beverages, furniture, kitchenware, grills and outdoor living, toys and pet care.

“Shoppers are smart — they want value. And we bring that value, but we also bring the convenience and the locations,” said president and CEO Mark Griffin. “And we have the benefit of knowing what the best locations are now and what they’re going to be in the future, and we take advantage of that.”

Overall, Lewis has 55 stores in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Although the larger formats — 35,000 to 50,000 square feet — are the company’s bread-and-butter stores, Griffin says the departures from the standard drug store model that played such a big part in the company’s rise must be reevaluated and strengthened for a 21st century appeal.

“About 15 years ago, we bought a chain in Iowa called Family Drug, 11 stores,” he recalled. “And I said, ‘Let’s just put Lewis in front of it and then call it Lewis Family Drug,’ because those neighborhoods would recognize Family Drug and they might recognize Lewis, too.”

That idea underscores Lewis’ balance of forward thinking and adherence to the values that founded and shaped the company. The two formats complement each other, “and that’s basically our business plan,” said Griffin.


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