Walgreens debuted a 27,000-square-foot, high-end flagship store in Chicago earlier this month. The new two-story unit has numerous upscale features including a made-to-order sushi bar, a smoothie station, a barista serving local coffee, a cigar humidor and an expanded selection of gourmet foods, wine, spirits and beer.
The store stocks more than 700 wines, compared to 70 at an average Walgreens location. Wine prices range from $18-$24 a bottle, although the store also boasts a 2006 Penfolds Grange for $449.99. The spirits selection also is impressive, with prices as high as $2,000 for Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac, and numerous beer offerings, including Walgreens’ private-label Big Flats 1901 beer and craft brews from Goose Island, Two Brothers Brewery and Great Lakes Brewing Co., among others.
Walgreens has been expanding the alcohol program at its roughly 7,800 stores throughout the United States. Up until the mid-1990s Walgreens was one of the country’s largest alcohol retailers, but it subsequently exited the business. In 2009, the company reinstated sales of wine, beer and spirits (where legal).
If this newest Chicago flagship proves successful, Walgreens will consider expanding the concept to selected neighborhoods throughout the U.S., although a company spokesperson said there are currently no specific expansion plans on the table.