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Second Hawaii Walgreens will open later this week


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POSTED: Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's spacious, convenient, new, and just a short walk away from competitor Longs Drugs.

               

     

 

 

Walgreens Kaneohe

        » Location: 46-021 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center

       

» Size: 14,800 square feet

       

» No. of hires: 40

       

» General manager: Heidi Muniz

       

» Highlights: Open 24 hours, drive-through pharmacy

       

       

Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Ill., is set to open its second full-service retail store in Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center later this week. No specific day was disclosed.

The 14,800-square-foot store was built from the ground up on a site formerly occupied by Star Market, and features wide aisles stocked with some 20,000 products, a photo processing center, Cafe W and a drive-through pharmacy.

It will be open 24 hours every day of the year.

"This is our typical prototype store," said Dana Psomas, Walgreens district manager for Hawaii, referring to the size and scope. "If (customers) liked our first store, they will really love the second location because it's bigger and offers more features found in typical Walgreens stores across the country."

The first Walgreens store in Hawaii opened in November 2007 at the former Tower Records site on Keeaumoku Street. That store is smaller than usual, measuring only about 9,000 square feet.

Walgreens had announced upon entering the Hawaii market that its goal is to open from 25 to 30 stores in the isles.

After a failed courtship for the acquisition of Longs Drugs last month, Walgreens is now focused on moving ahead with its plans in Hawaii.

Walgreens offered an unsolicited $2.8 billion to acquire the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Longs Drugs, which was a $3.50 per-share premium over CVS Caremark Corp.'s offer of $2.7 billion.

While the second offer drew the attention of several Longs shareholders, the Longs board of directors refused to enter into discussions with Walgreens.

Eventually, Walgreens withdrew its offer, and Longs closed it deal with CVS at the end of October.

The deal would have included more than 500 Longs Drugs stores in the western United States, including 39 in Hawaii. But Walgreens is not looking back at the failed opportunity.

"We're just moving forward with our original plans," said Psomas.

Besides Kaneohe, Walgreens also plans to open stores in Kalihi and Kailua next year. Other secured sites are in Aiea, Nuuanu, Nanakuli and Lahaina.

Walgreens also recently acquired four independently owned pharmacies on Maui.

The Walgreens in Kaneohe is a bold move, given that it is just a short stroll from an existing Longs Drugs in what appears to be the same shopping center.

While Longs has many loyal customers, many curious shoppers also will likely be drawn to the new Walgreens in town.

"They're going to go head on," said retail analyst Marty Plotnick. "Longs will never bite, but when CVS takes over, they'll bite back."

Among some of Walgreens' local suppliers are the Mountain Apple Co., which will bring local musicians to sign autographs at the store, and the Islander Group, which offers Hawaii-themed books and souvenirs.

A drive-through pharmacy accessible from Kamehameha Highway offers convenience for customers, who can drop off prescriptions and get them filled from the comfort of their vehicles.

There are two lanes, and advice is available through an intercom system.

More than 5,600 Walgreens stores across the U.S. feature the drive-through pharmacy, which the company first introduced in the early 1990s.

The new Walgreens store in Kaneohe also brought with it about 40 new jobs, ranging from beauty advisers to sales clerks, pharmacists and managers. Most of the hires are from Oahu's Windward side.

Kaneohe Walgreens General Manager Heidi Muniz moved back home after more than 15 years working for the company in Colorado to help open the new store.

"It's great to be home," she said.