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Shoppers Drug Mart unveils new Wellwise format

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TORONTO — Shoppers Drug Mart is recasting the shopping experience for seniors with a new store format dubbed Wellwise.

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

On Saturday, Shoppers Drug Mart plans to hold a grand opening event for the new store, located at 65 Wicksteed Ave. in Toronto.

The overarching principle of the store concept is to let people take control of how they age, according to 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. One in five Canadians, over 6 million people, are caregivers. “They’re shopping for themselves,” Firestone noted, “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, with a staffer, for example, 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,” said Scott Wilks, vice president of Shoppers Home Health Care. “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 premiere toward the end of October.

SDM also continues to operate 49 Shoppers 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 commented. “We’re launching really two parts to this at the same time.”

*Article updated with store photos.


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