Recently I biked to the drug store about a mile from my place. This is where I get my pharmaceuticals and odd items between excursions to big box stores like Target. This day all I needed was to buy a roll of quarters. Do I have a bank account? Of course, but it’s a credit union HQ’d in another state with the only physical outlet I have access to being an ATM at a partner credit union. That partner credit union never has rolls of quarters at the teller. The pain point is that I need coins to do laundry and sometimes parking meters. I’m a quarter hog.
The sign over the photo development counter says, “Customer Service”, and so I ask to buy a roll of quarters. No deal. They don’t change money, I’m told. Although I’ve done it before at this very store. No matter. I bike back home, drive 3.7 miles to Whole Foods, and they sell me a roll of quarters. While I’m there I pick up $21.56 worth of other stuff. And I check in on foursquare.
Drug stores need to wake up if they’re going to compete against The Big Boxes. What they can and should offer is a community resource. Stop thinking of themselves as a white-tiled brick and mortar retail outlet and more a center of all things a community needs.
I know what they’re thinking. Before you know it they’ll have people out front asking for signatures on ballot initiatives and dogs on leashes waiting for their owners to reemerge. Traffic would be so bad.
To jack up the activity, I propose local drug stores think of themselves as the flex points in our new economy. Offer to be the essential location for the things that location needs. Attract return, incidental traffic. Stop being a cookie cutter store from 1978.
Here are some ideas to pump up. I'm talking to you CVS.
· Be the local plastic bag recycling location
· Host the Humane Society cat adoption program once a month
· Have those dog water bowls out front
· Put the convenience products in front, not the seasonal crap
· Make the rest of the store so inviting customers will want to explore
· It won’t kill you to sell me a damn roll of quarters
Experience researcher in high tech and built environments with an anthropology provenance.