It's only fitting that Walgreens placed its 8,000th store opening among the stars of Hollywood. It's not only a stellar achievement in and of itself, but the company's latest flagship store — and the first one on the West Coast — continues to emphasize Walgreens' out-of-this-world approach to drug store retailing.
Except you can't really call it drug store retailing, anymore. Not really. Because the other reason Hollywood is an appropriate backdrop to Walgreens' West Coast flagship is the fact that Walgreens has effectively transformed its big-box stage into a retail theater where each new grand location portrays a little of that flair in each new urban setting. That was evident in its second flagship store along Broadway in New York with its museum chronologically picturing those who have been honored in the Canyon of Heroes. And it's also evident in the second placement of a Walgreens' flagship store in Chicago.
Because even as this Los Angeles location is 8,000 and the big retail star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there's still a buzz around what Walgreens has done with its Bucktown store back home in Chicago. Walgreens transformed the historic Noel State Bank building, built in 1919 and designed by Gardner Coughlen in a neo-classical style. The location has hosted a number of banks over the years — the original bank had been closed following the Great Depression. But now local Chicago officials are banking on Walgreens to help revitalize the urban neighborhood.
There is a big picture thought process behind each of these new flagship iterations. No two are the same. And the only other brightly-colored common thread linking each of the locations — beyond the recurring theme of "local" — is that big picture thought behind each new store — to be customers’ first choice for health and daily living. "It’s about being different from everything else out there in the market; it’s about giving customers every imaginable option for how they could shop your brand, and then imagining a few more; it’s about making customers rethink how they shop the drug store and what they shop it for," wrote editor-in-chief Rob Eder out of an exclusive interview with Walgreens' flagship director Joe Magnacca.
Walgreens operates flagship stores in New York, Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Chicago and now Los Angeles. One in Boston is scheduled to open in the spring. And no matter where Walgreens decides to place its next flagship center, one thing is for sure — it's going to make a new city of health and beauty consumers rethink what defines a retail pharmacy in the 21st century.