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A Drugstore Revolutionizes C-Store Retailing?
Written by Betsy
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 00:03

Monday (January 9) brought news that Walgreens would open a flagship store in Chicago The Chicago Tribune reported that the 27,000 square foot location will feature “…such new touches as a humidor, international newsstand, made-to-order smoothies, self-serve frozen yogurt, sushi and juice bars, and a barista selling exclusive State & Randolph brand coffee.Makeovers, manicures and wine? Also there.  Kairos Consumers thought this all sounded a bit familiar…and not because of the Duane Reade (chain owned by Walgreens) flagship opening last summer, which was reported by a July 2011 press release as "The World's Most Innovative Drugstore with Pharmacy Service." Rather, it seems that Walgreens is using its sure footing in the US drugstore market to indirectly go where several companies had once dared but had not succeeded: Bringing innovation to the convenience store concept. Remember the konbini rage? What happened to the Japanese convenience store prototype that was projected to forever change the landscape as we know it?

In the early part of the decade, retailing publications and mainstream media alike heralded what was to be a proliferation of stores like the FamilyMart Famima!!concept.  Starting in Los Angeles, the stores offer goods ranging from sushi and noodle dishes to premium chocolate, as well as craft beer and wine. The target consumer was projected as middle to high income and 24 – 40 years of age. These stores boast clean lines and sophisticated lighting and displays, with ambiance encouraging consumers to linger and nibble rather than run home with microwave meals in hand.  The company ended up broadening its reach as well as its product mix upon discovering that the U.S. market might not be ready for such a revolutionary spin on the tried and true (yet many would argue, tired and lacking) convenience store concept. As of 2004, hundreds of Famima!! Stores were projected to open over five-year period. But contractions came quickly on the heels of store openings as the economy took a downturn and the concept had not taken flight as quickly or dramatically as expected. According to the company website, now only six Famima!! stores remain, all in the Los Angeles area, and several of the chains that were expected to arrive never did. Fast forward to 2012 and Walgreens with its - for now - two concept stores. The drugstore giant may find great value in what the Japanese convenience store chains did not have: one foot outside the convenience store pond. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 January 2012 00:17