DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens revealed today it will open its first stores in Alaska next year, marking a major milestone for the drug store megachain as it powers its way to its oft-stated goal of 7,000 stores by 2010. The grand opening next year will make Walgreens the first drug store chain to operate in all 50 states.
Walgreens, which also has stores in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, said it expects its first store to open in Anchorage in the summer of 2009, with two more locations opening before the end of the calendar year. The company said it would initially focus on Anchorage and south-central Alaska, although no specific sites have been announced.
“With a fast-growing over-65 population, the need for pharmacy and related health services is expanding in Alaska,” said William Hose, Walgreens’ recently named vice president of store operations for Alaska. “We’ll help meet those needs with services that are currently hard to find or don’t exist in the market.”
Walgreens acknowledged the logistical hurdles the company faces in its leap to the far north. “Staying connected to the Lower 48 can be challenging at times, but Walgreens will make that easier through special pharmacy and digital photo services,” company spokesman Michael Polzin noted in a statement. “With all Walgreens pharmacies across the country electronically connected, a patient’s prescription information is available at any Walgreens when they’re traveling.
“That also makes taking care of prescription needs easier for residents who spend any extended time outside Alaska,” the company asserted. “And with digital photo services available both in-store and online at Walgreens.com, customers can send photos to any Walgreens drugstore nationwide for pickup by family or friends in an hour.”
Hose said the chain would work with local vendors to provide products specific to the needs of the Alaska market. “We’ll learn from our local vendors what is important to Alaska’s customers, and that will be reflected in our merchandise offerings,” he said.