BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Walgreen Co. made good on its long-standing promise to open its 7,000th store by 2010, unveiling the milestone unit in a ceremony here earlier this month.
“By getting to 7,000 stores across the country we have a great foundation to build upon,” president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson said after the ceremony that officially opened the 7,500-square-foot store in the Gravesend section of this New York City borough. “Having that solid store base allows us now to look backward to ensure we are keeping those stores relevant to the customer.”
While declining to say just how big Walgreens can get — previous executives once said the drug chain could eventually hit the 10,000-store mark in the United States — Wasson stressed that the Brooklyn opening was indicative of the company’s growth strategy going forward.
Walgreens has said much of its future growth will be in the Northeast and California. The 7,000th drug store is its 20th in Brooklyn and its 67th in New York City. The chain expects to open about 25 New York–area stores within the next couple of years.
Overall, the company expects to open about 300 stores annually in each of the next few years.
The opening of the 7,000th store culminates a growth surge that saw Walgreens expand its store network from 3,000 units in 2001 to 7,040 outlets now.
“We’ve come a long way since Charles R. Walgreen Sr. opened his first store in Chicago in 1901,” Wasson told the crowd of politicians, community leaders and shoppers gathered in the store’s parking lot for the opening. “As our company has grown from a small neighborhood pharmacy to a leading provider of pharmacy and health and wellness services, the one thing that has never changed is our commitment to remaining a trusted resource in every neighborhood we serve.”
Being active in its stores’ communities has always been a hallmark of Walgreens’ operation, he said. As part of the opening of its 7,000 store, the company donated $7,000 to Lenny’s Lighthouse, a Brooklyn charity that provides support to people with disabilities. The donation and Walgreens’ pledge to open more stores across Brooklyn and New York’s other four boroughs drew the praise of local officials.
“They have only just begun,” Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz said as he handed pins to Wasson and Walgreens chairman Alan McNally, declaring them “honorary Brooklynites.”
“Walgreens is committed to enhancing the communities in which they do business,” Markowitz stated. “That’s their credo, and that means it is a love affair with Brooklyn.”