CHICAGO (CBS) — The new, upscale Walgreens store at State and Randolph streets is opening to the public Tuesday morning.

The new store occupies two floors and 27,000 square feet at the former Loehmann’s department store, at 151 N. State St.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

Walgreens president of health and daily living solutions Joe Magnacca says the new store is part of an effort to rebrand Walgreens as more than just a drugstore.

“We really are trying to leave the drugstore space and enter a totally new territory – we call it a health and daily living space – and we really just believe we’re trying to make life simpler for our consumers and our patients, and I think part of what we’re trying to do is really just step out of the box and really change our approach,” Magnacca said on the CBS 2 Morning News.

The typical Walgreens layout is likely branded within the average Chicagoan’s mind – the photo counter and a checkout counter with an assortment of cigarettes in the front, the pharmacy counter in the back, and aisles of non-prescription drugs, cosmetics, toiletries, greeting cards and big bags of candy in between.

But at the State and Randolph Walgreens, the first sight will be a sushi bar, where chefs are preparing the sushi live before your very eyes. A station for fruit juice shakes and a barista bar will also be available, along with a beer, wine and spirits section featuring tastings.

The juice bar will also offer malted milk shakes, in a throwback to the soda fountains that Walgreens for which Walgreens was once well-known.

A manicure and beauty bar will also be among the offerings.

Meanwhile, pharmacists will be moved out front from behind the counter to consult with patients out front, Magnacca said.

The store is tailored specifically toward downtown Chicago, he said.

“Now we’re really trying to localize our stores; to make sure that we’re putting the best store forward in every community, so State and Randolph is quite different from the stores we’d have in New York,” Magnacca said.

The 22,000 square-foot Walgreens is the largest new-format store in the system, and will employ 60 full-time staffers, Magnacca said.

On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn were on hand for the gala ribbon-cutting at the store.

“This is not your mom and dad’s drug store,” Emanuel said. “This is not, when they said, go down to the drug store and get x, they did not think sushi and expresso in the x column.”

Deerfield-based Walgreens is not saying how many stores similar to the new State Street store it is considering, but said it’s scouting former Borders bookstore locations across the country.

Plans already have been released for a two-story Walgreens at the old Borders at 2817 N. Clark St., in the East Lakeview neighborhood. Renderings from the architectural firm Hirsch Associates LLC showed plans for two-story “Wellness Experience” store at the site with more space and features than a typical Walgreens store.

Walgreens spokesman Rob Elfinger said in November that the company did not have a lease on the Clark Street property.

(Entry By: Annalisa Alzona)


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This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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