Online Exclusives

Duane Reade's Modern Day Piazza

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | September 1, 2011

Nestled near the New York Stock Exchange, Duane Reade has opened its largest store to date and there's a big emphasis on beauty inside the historic space.

Nestled in the curvy streets of lower Manhattan right near the famed New York Stock Exchange, Duane Reade’s newest store at 40 Wall Street occupies a space that was once called the “Crown Jewel of Wall Street.” At 22,000-sq.-ft. this new Duane Reade flagship store is the chain's most innovative location to date, offering the wares one expects from the venerable New York-based operation—cough medicine, diapers, mascara and mints—but so much more, like sushi and scalp analysis.


The new 24-hour store has what the firm calls an "up market" focus—and there is plenty of emphasis on HBA with bright, inviting and interactive displays and counters that look more department than drugstore.

Specifically, the new space has
an expanded beauty department that features its award-winning Look Boutique, which offers before/after virtual makeovers, skin analysis from Philips Crystalize, and an automatic fragrance sampler that allows customers to try more than 40 different scents on their wrist or a paper blotter.

According to Joe Magnacca, president of Duane Reade and president of Daily Living Products and Solutions for Walgreens,the 40 Wall Street location mirrors Duane Reade's strategic brand repositioning.

The store has a nail salon that provides manicures and quick touch-ups with the latest colors from OPI and Essie. There is also an hair salon by Phyto Universe that offers blowouts and styling in a separate room complete with a massive crystal chandelier that screams this is not your typical Duane Reade.

“This isn’t your grandmother’s drugstore,” Magnacca told Happi. “This is different than a typical drugstore. We are creating a different experience in the store, using beauty and food as differentiators.”

When Duane Reade embarked on the project, decisions were also made to retain many of the space’s historical features such as its soaring columns, marble floors and even a fireplace. The building, which built in 1930, was designated a landmark in 1998 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Historical features aside, there’s plenty of high-tech. Take the Virtual Assistant, the custom-designed hologram welcomes customers as they ascend the escalator into the retail space.

In addition, the 40 Wall Street unit is stocking new brands to lure younger consumers. Along with OPI and Essie in the nail category, the store is adding Butter London, a hip lacquer brand with a fast-growing fan base.

“Our move into prestige and premium is attracting a younger consumers,” Magnacca said.

All of the beauty service concepts in the new flagship are designed to sell more HBA products. For example, scalp and hair analysis determines what type of products consumers should be using.

“This helps un-commoditize the category,” Magnacca said. “It isn’t about buy what is on sale, it is about buying what is right to help your hair.”
Duane Reade—which was acquired by Walgreens in 2010—acts an incubator for its parent company.

“The beauty space is on steroids, from a space point of view,” he said about the 40 Wall Street store, noting that many elements inside can be brought into other company stores in the future.

According to Magnacca, change has been a long-time coming in the drugstore channel.

“We believe the drugstore is tired; it hasn’t been refreshed in years,” he said. “We couldn’t be more pleased to be a game changer.”

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