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Broadening Take Care’s position in health care with fitness offering

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Fitness and nutrition programs have been core parts of employer-based wellness programs before, including the ones Take Care operates for such employers as Harrah’s Casinos. But, by taking an ownership position in the company that provides the fitness offering, Walgreens/Take Care has the opportunity to look for creative ways to bring new wellness-type programs to its stores through its retail clinics, perhaps even as part of a larger weight-loss management program. For example, RediClinic recently announced a new weight-loss program, Weigh Forward, which it offers in H-E-B stores.

(THE NEWS: Take Care to offer Core Performance wellness services to employer clients. For the full story, click here.)

And beyond just improving health outcomes, this is an opportunity for community pharmacy/retail clinics to build new relationships to customers and patients that keep them coming back to the store/clinic even when they are not sick. It could help expand the paradigm from sick care to well care and help build community. For instance, Nike stores, such as the one in Boston, host "running clubs" that keep people connected to the store. It’s not just a place to buy sneakers, it’s a part of their lives.

These kinds of programs don’t just drive customer loyalty; they also make customers rabid fans of your brand. Just think about Nike. People pay big money for Nike apparel just for the chance to be a human billboard to advertise their love of the brand.

So, a fitness club in a drug store/retail clinic? In the immortal words of Nike, DSN says: "Just do it."

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Walgreens goes fresh in San Francisco food desert store

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Friday announced the expansion of its fresh food selection at its location at Third Street and Williams Avenue in San Francisco’s Bayview community, a neighborhood identified as a food desert. The drug store now offers a larger assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean protein and other healthy meal components.

The store is Walgreens’ first location in the Bay area to undergo a redesign to accommodate the expanded food selection now termed "Food Oasis." The new layout includes approximately 500 sq. ft. of additional space dedicated to food items, an offering believed to be unprecedented in the city from a traditional retail drug store.

"As one of the top pharmacy, health and wellness resources in Bayview and throughout the city, we are pleased to be making this commitment to becoming a convenient source for wholesome food, along with other daily living needs residents here trust us for," stated Bill Hose, Walgreens market VP for Northern California. "Tackling the issue of healthy food accessibility is key to improving health outcomes in underserved communities. We believe our new offering will provide a level of access that will help many customers make improvements to their diet and help lay a foundation for basic disease prevention."

Walgreens marked the official grand reopening of the store at 5300 Third St. with a community celebration kicking off July 8 at 10:30 a.m. Mayor Edwin Lee, supervisor Malia Cohen and state senator Leland Yee joined Walgreens executives for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by such activities as a healthy cooking demonstration, health screenings, healthy food sampling and giveaways.

In addition to its Bayview location, Walgreens plans to have its expanded food selection available in food deserts in Oakland and Berkeley by the fall. The drug store chain launched its Food Oasis initiative in Chicago last summer with 11 stores across the city’s south and west sides. Walgreens continues to review opportunities to bring the expanded offering to other food desert areas across the country.

"The response to this new offering in Chicago has been strong, and we are looking forward to having the same positive impact in more communities," Hose said. "No other retailer has more locations in America’s underserved neighborhoods. That makes us well-positioned to play a larger role in addressing this important health need."

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Albertsons bids self checkouts farewell

BY Antoinette Alexander

BOISE, Idaho — Albertsons is pulling the plug on its self-checkout units, which will be replaced by standard "H" lanes or express lanes, the grocer has confirmed.

The 217-store grocer that operates in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Utah has self-checkout units installed in roughly 100 of its stores. Those units will be removed by the end of the summer.

According to the grocer, the self-checkout units prevent it from providing the level of customer service it wants to offer its shoppers.

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