Today, Walgreens opened the doors to a “flagship” store in Chicago’s Loop neighborhood that touts healthier offerings, including made-to-order smoothies, self-serve frozen yogurt, sushi and juice bars, and a barista selling exclusive State & Randolph brand coffee.
While many Chicago residents are pleased to see the ubiquitous corner drug store expand its offerings to help them live a healthier lifestyle, some are also skeptical that retail giant will maintain a high standard of quality across all channels.
These new additions do not come as a surprise to frequent Walgreens customers who have seen fresh salads and groceries appear in stores across the U.S. The chain also offers blood pressure screenings, blood glucose and cholesterol screenings, free flu shots in low-income areas and has recently sponsored a number of national and local athletic events.
“I love when a store or brand expands its core business to healthy alternatives,” said Chicago resident and business owner Molly Lynch. “However, I think Walgreens is overextending itself by offering sushi. There are multiple reasons why sushi eaters (myself included) should be mindful when eating this delicious food. Health concerns abound and sushi should be served where it belongs: in sushi restaurants, preferably the ones that passed health codes.”
While Americans are increasingly interested in purchasing healthier options from fast food chain restaurants and convenience stores, as evidenced by Chick-Fil-A’s grilled chicken nuggets, some prefer to frequent specialty stores for their health needs.
Rachel Wind, a resident of the Bridgeport neighborhood, agrees that while the company is making strides in the right direction, she would feel uncomfortable purchasing anything other than a convenience item from a convenience store.
“I like the idea of a juice bar since that aligns with convenience and speed,” said Wind. “But I would feel uncomfortable buying sushi in the same place that you buy antacids and paper products. If I am buying healthy food, I want to purchase it from a company passionate about selling only healthy products and not as an afterthought.”
Chicago resident Brian Chelstowski thinks that Walgreens’ healthier offerings are a step in the right direction for people who don’t have access to grocery stores, but finds the shift toward healthier food a little hard to digest.
“It is great that Walgreens is selling healthy food so that it is more accessible to people in areas of town that lack grocery stores,” said Chelstowski. “I personally wouldnt shop there for salads or fruit juice – it just wouldn’t occur to me.”
Images via Chicago Tribune
January 10th, 2012