Today Duane Reade opened a massive new 24-hour, 22,000-square-foot, flagship store at 40 Wall Street in the Financial District. And what exactly does Duane Reade do with 22,000 feet? Offer a surprising array of upscale goods, food and services that you just can't find in the area's 14 other Duane Reade locations.
"We decided to put all of our bells and whistles into one store," Joe Magnacca, president of Duane Reade and Everyday Living Situations at the Walgreen Company, told us. Those 'bells and whistles' include on-site beauty services (manicures, blow-outs, and eyebrow threading) as well as a sushi bar and a juice bar. Magnacca elaborated, "In our beauty area we've expanded to services including a nail bar and our Phyto Salon where you can get a blow-out and you can get your hair analyzed." We can't wait to go back for a girl's night out to get our hair Duane Readelyzed!
At lunchtime today, Magnacca divulged that the sushi chefs were having a hard time keeping up with all of the orders coming in. We spoke to Brooklyn resident John Chester, who, after purchasing the $6.99 Salmon Avocado roll, told us, "It was fresh. I can compare it to the sushi at Whole Foods. Actually, this [location] is like 7/11 meets Rite Aid meets Target." In other words: PARADISE. And while we opted for a $4.99 Berry Breakfast Smoothie (which was refreshing), it was not unlike any of the smoothies you can get at a street cart or even make at home. We expect more from a superstore!
As for what Duane Reade's strategy is here, Magnacca explains, "We're really inspired by the European drugstore, which is very different from what we have here in the U.S. We're trying to move the market in a very different way. A drugstore is essentially founded in health and some convenient foods, we believe we have the opportunity to expand in to more foods, and that's why he have the sushi bar and gluten-free products. In addition, we're trying to offer services. We think that European inspired drugstores are the future for North America."
But Chester, the shopper from Brooklyn, isn't so sure. He noted the entrance to the store and wondered, "Who would use an escalator just to get into a Duane Reade? It'll be convenient for people who live in the neighborhood, but since no one lives in the Financial District..." Hey, get with the times pal; it's not the FiDi, it's SoMa.