Duane Reade opens big on Wall Street

New York CIty -- With its array of in-store services, expanded food offerings and unexpected amenities, the new Duane Reade flagship in downtown Manhattan pushes the envelope of drugstore retailing -- and it does so with a style and ambience that sets it apart from the competition.

(View photos of the flagship store)

The 22, 000-sq.-ft. store is located in the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street (once the tallest building in the world), in a cavernous space that was formerly home to a bank. With its vaulted ceilings and marble columns, the refashioned interior combines the building’s historic architecture with decidedly contemporary elements, starting with a high-tech holographic “virtual” greeter that welcomes customers. In a nod to its location, there is also a NYSE ticker. The interior was designed by CBX, New York,

The new Duane Reade boasts a number of services, including a nail salon, hair salon and shoe shine station. A doctor is on hand in the pharmacy for consultation. The expanded food section is more like a mini-convenience store. It includes a juice bar, sushi bar, and refrigerated cases with such Big Apple favorites as pastrami from the Carnegie Deli and sandwiches from Zabar.

The store brings together many of the innovations that Duane Reade has been working on in recent years under one roof for the first time -- and also brings the best of its parent company, Walgreens, particularly the latter’s pharmacy expertise.

“This store will serve as an incubator for new ideas,” said Joe Magnacca, president of Duane Reade and president of Daily Living Products and Solutions for Walgreens. “And where is makes sense, we will apply whatever works here to other locations, Walgreens as well as Duane Reade.” (Walgreens acquired the 258-store Duane Reade in 2010 for about $1 billion.)

The 22,000-sq.-ft. Wall Street location is the largest to date in Walgreens’ portfolio. But that will not be true by the end of the year, Magnacca said.

“We are looking to open flagships under the Walgreens banner, in select locations,” he added.

Some of the key highlights of the store include:

  • A big focus on fresh foods, with a sushi station complete with a chef, a juice bar with fresh-made smoothies, and an expanded natural and organic section containing fresh fruits, vegetables, wraps, sandwiches and salads. The overall food selection balances national brands with local, well-known vendors.

  • A Coca-Cola "Freestyle" machine dispensing 130 combinations of Coca Cola- owned fountain drinks;

  • A department-store styled beauty department offering before/after virtual makeovers, skin analysis, and an automatic fragrance sampler that will allow customers to try more than 40 different scents. Trained beauty advisors are on hand to assist customers.

  • The chain’s first pharmacy "Powered by Walgreens Pharmacy Network,” concept, which links the system to the Walgreens pharmacy system;

  • No-appointment-required "Doctor On Premises" service;

  • A nail salon, done in partnership with Essie and OPI, that offers feature manicures in a boutique-like setting (in a space that used to house the office of banker David Rockefeller) accented with a chandelier, antique mirror marble fireplace;

  • The first retail application of the Tensator Virtual Assistant (see related story), which uses holographic imaging and audio-visual technology to create the illusion of a real person. Here it takes the form of a friendly female greeter who welcomes customers to the store.

  • A hair salon by Phyto Universe offering such services as hair/scalp analysis and blowouts;

  • A cell-phone charging station that will lock and charge the device while the customer shops;

  • A newstand stocked with papers from financial centers around the world; and

  • A shoe-shine station, with all proceeds donated to locally-based charities.