REAL ESTATE

Walgreens restores historic Chicago building into flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens unveiled its newest Chicago flagship, in the historic Noel State Bank building in the city’s Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood (click here to see photos). This is the chain’s second flagship in Chicago and, like its downtown State and Randolph flagship location, features an extensive collection of innovative offerings, products and services unexpected from a drugstore.

The store preserves the architectural integrity of the historic building, which was constructed in 1919. (The original bank fell closed during the Great Depression, and the space has housed several different banks over the decades.) For the last two years, Walgreens worked closely with the city’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks on the building restoration. The exterior is clad entirely in ornamental terra cotta. Large windows are divided by rising pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals, and a prominent cornice wraps around the rounded corner of the building.

Extensive restoration took place on the building’s coffered plaster ceiling, which features abundant non-symmetrical hexagons that frame griffins and other ornate designs, all of which form into successive yet subtle Star of David patterns. At the center is a large stained glass window with a six-point star design. Walgreens also restored the interior columns topped with pilasters and the original bank vault, which will be repurposed as a “Vitamin Vault” in the store’s health and wellness section.

The store’s features include:

  • Vitamin Vault: The original cast iron safe entrance, with visible locking gears, will lead customers into a unique vitamin and supplement section. Original bank lockboxes open and display various vitamin products.
  • An enhanced, state-of-the-art pharmacy designed to encourage greater interaction between pharmacists and patients. An iPad-equipped health guide will help pharmacy customers navigate a wide range of health and wellness products, services and resources including immunizations and health tests. The pharmacy also features an “Ask Your Pharmacist” desk, consultation rooms and Express Rx kiosks for swift checkout.
  • A juice bar featuring fresh fruits and vegetables and made-to-order smoothies. The chocolate malted milkshake, invented by a Walgreens soda fountain manager in 1922, also will be served.
  • Hundreds of fresh food items including produce and high-quality, on-the-go meal options such as wraps, sandwiches and salads made fresh daily. Plus, a wide variety of sushi and sashimi.
  • A best-in-class wine selection boasting more than 700 fine wines.
  • A Look Boutique beauty department featuring dozens of prestige and niche brands not typically found in drug stores. Specially-trained beauty advisors are on hand to offer guidance finding the best solutions for individual needs. Expert shaping and grooming services will be available at the Eyebrow Bar.

“It was thrilling to restore this architectural gem once again into a thriving business anchor in the Bucktown/Wicker Park area,” said Joe Magnacca, Walgreens president of daily living products and solutions. “This flagship store will provide customers with a unique shopping experience within an iconic building. It’s the latest example of how we are stepping out of the traditional drugstore format and helping people get, stay and live well.”

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OPERATIONS

Nordstrom and OfficeMax top list of retailers that keep employees happiest

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — For the second year in a row, Nordstrom topped the list of retail companies that keep their employees happiest, followed by Macy’s and OfficeMax, according to an annual survey by CareerBliss. The ranking takes into account employee reviews of their employer based on work-life balance, senior management compensation, benefits and job security.

“Happy retail employees tend to provide a happier customer experience and also help influence their fellow co-workers,” said Matt Miller, CTO and co-founder of CareerBliss. “Amongst the top ten retailers, we saw that employees ranked their co-workers as a large factor on their overall happiness at work.”

The Top 10 companies on CareerBliss’ Happiest Retailers in America 2012 are:

1. Nordstrom
2. Macy’s
3. OfficeMax
4. Best Buy
5. GameStop
6. Bath & Body Works
7. Office Depot
8. Dillard’s
9. Kohl’s
10. Sears

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ECOMMERCE

Toys ‘R’ Us strengthens global e-commerce capabilities

BY Staff Writer

Wayne, N.J. – Toys “R” Us announced it has strengthened its global e-commerce capabilities with the launch of a dedicated web store in China. The company also announced the development of mobile-optimized sites and apps in 11 markets around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the U.K. In the coming months, the retailer will introduce the same capabilities in Portugal, Austria and Switzerland, as well as the Netherlands, where it does not currently have a store presence.

“With the launch of our new e-commerce site in China and the addition of mobile shopping capabilities in our international markets, Toys “R” Us is more accessible now than ever before to customers around the globe,” said Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO, Toys “R” Us, Inc. “These initiatives help us advance the company’s international growth and omnichannel strategies, while allowing more customers to shop with us whenever, wherever and however they choose.”

In 2010 and 2011, Toys “R” Us, Inc. experienced double digit growth in its global e-commerce business, and generated $1 billion in online sales last year.

Toys “R” Us’ new mobile capabilities in Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Japan, Australia, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the U.K., include a mobile-optimized website and dedicated applications for iOS and Android. Tablet-optimized sites will be available in select markets, as well. Users have the ability to navigate seamlessly between Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us, allowing them to browse and shop a wide selection of toy and juvenile products as easily on-the-go as they can from their homes.

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