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SDM redesigns outlet store for seniors

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Wellwise by Shoppers Drug Mart

TORONTO — Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) is reshaping the shopping experience for seniors with a new format here.

The Wellwise by Shoppers Drug Mart outlet caters to the needs of aging Canadians who don’t want an “old person’s store,” says SDM senior vice president of health care businesses Theresa Fire­stone. Shopping for the elderly “doesn’t have to be a daunting experience,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be focused on being sick.”

Bright lighting and vivid colors contrast with the beige decor associated with more clinical settings to enliven the pilot store. And the merchandise mix targets a broad age range, with products from mobility items to yoga mats, weights for Pilates, and braces and brands for Millennial “weekend warriors.” There are also aromatherapy kits and travel accessories such as collapsible backpacks. The assortment excludes pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs, as well as beauty products and food.

There is a prominent yellow sign for “active living,” a green “mobility” department and a “tools and gadgets” section set off with orange. The purple “personal care” area has more sensitive products, such as incontinence items, nestled in the back, allowing for increased ­privacy.

The overarching principle of the store is to let people take control of how they age, says Fire­stone. The mobility section, for example, focuses on movements people can make, as opposed to their disabilities.

The store also recognizes the key role of caregivers in Canada, with aisles that are wide enough to be navigated by people pushing patients in wheelchairs, or for people using walkers. One in five Canadians, over 6 million people, are caregivers. “They’re shopping for themselves,” Firestone notes, “but also for the people they’re looking after.”

The spacious layout also supports education by allowing customers to walk to different sections with employees who can explain how to use ­products.

Services, including those of dietitians, will also be emphasized. The services will extend into the community, for example, with a staff member leading “urban poling” — neighborhood walks with walking sticks.

“We want to be part of the community and part of the dialogue about changing the conversation on aging,” says vice president of home health care Scott Wilks. “A big part is to promote healthy, active living. You stay active, you’ll stay well and you’ll age powerfully.”

Going hand in hand with the debut of Wellwise will be the launch of a national (initially excluding Quebec) e-commerce business for seniors’ needs, at the wellwise.ca website. That will premier toward the end of October.

SDM also continues to operate 49 home health care stores in three provinces, including 40 in Ontario.

“We’re really hopeful that we’ve got a great combination with the bricks-and-mortar and the e-commerce,” Firestone comments. “We’re launching really two parts to this at the same time.”

Canada’s 2016 census found that, for the first time, the population of those age 65 and older exceeded those who are under 15.


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