Lewis Drugs has seen a vibrant response following the debut of its innovative "store of the future" in its hometown of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Lewis Drug, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, drug store, pharmacy, store of the future, Four Seasons garden center, beauty boutique, Mark Griffin, groceries, electronics, home goods, Geoff Walden

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Strong start for Lewis Drug's 'store of the future'

December 29th, 2010
The new store features Lewis' first beauty boutique.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Lewis Drugs has seen a vibrant response following the debut of its innovative "store of the future" in its hometown of Sioux Falls, S.D.

The 40,000-square-foot drug store, Lewis' sixth location in Sioux Falls, sports an upscale decor, a broad offering of consumables and general merchandise, and a climate-controlled Four Seasons garden center with a retractable roof.

Asked how the store has been doing since its mid-November opening, Lewis president and chief executive officer Mark Griffin said, "So far, so great."

Located at 69th and Louise, the new store got off to a strong start for the holiday season. Over Black Friday weekend, Griffin said, the outlet sold hundreds of flat-screen televisions. And in December the momentum continued with a Sunday block party. Invitations with one-day gift certificates were mailed to everyone in the neighborhood and in the store's prescription file. The event included free samples, children's activities and a goody bag distribution.

"It's all about investing in the neighborhood," according to Griffin.

Lewis aimed to do something special with the new location, which represented the chain's first new, full-size store in two decades in Sioux Falls. Earth tones, wood flooring, eco-friendly construction and high-end brands give the outlet more of a department store or specialty store look and feel than that of a conventional drug store. And reinforcing the upscale ambiance is Lewis' first beauty boutique.

"We wanted to break the mold of the cookie-cutter chain drug store," Griffin told Chain Drug Review. "Having had this real estate for six years or so, we had the chance to do something different — really different."

The glass-enclosed Four Seasons is a 4,000-square-foot garden wing, and for the holidays it featured live Christmas trees from growers in Michigan and Wisconsin. The department has a 14-foot Plexiglass roof that is computerized to automatically open to let in sunlight and close when it senses a drop in barometric pressure — before it starts raining or snowing.

Adopted from Canada, the concept is new to the upper Midwest, Griffin noted. It enables customers to shop in winter with the feeling of being outdoors but "protected from the elements, in comfort, with no wind," he said.

Another signature department is an upgraded, stylized electronics section displaying 10 flat-screen televisions in sizes ranging from 20 inches to 55 inches.

The pharmacy maintains the boutique theme with a wood plank floor and a lounge area with flat-screen televisions for viewing and free coffee. "It’s set aside a bit from the store to almost give it its own environment," Griffin said.

Another standout feature of the new store is its 3,000 square feet of groceries, making that section "almost like a small supermarket," remarked Griffin.

The department caters to the residential neighborhood with milk, bread, frozen food and Lewis' first walk-in cooler. The all-glass cooler has a wide range of beverages, from wine to mini-kegs of beer to soft drinks. And outside the cooler are $100,000 worth of spirits.

"We customized the selection of the entire store, but probably the department that was affected the most is grocery," Griffin said.

A home goods department includes decorations, kitchen tables and chairs, lamps and lounge chairs. Brands include Ashley and Lane. Home decor is one of Lewis' fastest-growing categories, according to Griffin.

The kitchenware area has been enhanced with prestige brands including Cuisinart and KitchenAid, as well as such trendy items as single-cup coffee makers. The department is laid out like a kitchen island, with a look and product assortment similar to what someone would have at home.

With a granite-like decor, "it looks like a kitchen counter," which contributes to the boutique theme, Griffin said.

With young families predominating in the vicinity, the store has an expanded toy selection. Holiday decor included blow-up Santa figures and sleighs inflated with fans.

"A lot of retailers do this for regions," Griffin said of the store's customization. "We do it for parts of town. We really focus and rifle-shoot product selection to cater to the neighborhood. Even in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you have different demographics in different parts of town, and you need to capitalize."

Overall, Lewis operates 32 drug stores in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.