Four drugstores in Idaho are among the first of Rite Aid’s more than 2,400 stores to undergo a major remodel.
“This is the future of Rite Aid,” Lydia Stroup, a RiteAid divisional vice president for retail, said in an interview at the company’s flagship Boise store. “This is our new remodel, the start of a transformation from what you would do in a traditional drug store into a health and wellness destination.”
There are four other Rite Aid stores in Boise, a second store in Meridian and one each in Lewiston, Moscow, Caldwell, Coeur d’Alene and Hayden.
In Boise, Rite Aid has removed the cramped aisles, high shelves and dim lighting.
“Now, you can really see the products and have the opportunity to explore through this clean and clutter-free aesthetic,” Stroup said.
The building that the upgraded Rite Aid occupies was constructed by Safeway in 1950. It has the rounded roof known as Marina-style, because the first Safeway store with that feature was built on Marina Boulevard in San Francisco. That store design was popular through the early 1960s. The store later became a PriceLess Drug Store, a chain bought by Rite Aid in 1996.
Rite Aid, headquartered in Pennsylvania, plans to spend $700 million over the next two years changing how it operates and remodeling stores, found in 18 states mostly along the West and East Coasts. A handful of other stores that have been remodeled are in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
It will take several years to complete remodels of all the stores, Stroup said.
Other Idaho stores that have been updated are in Boise, Meridian and McCall. Rite Aid spent about $500,000 on each remodel, according to building permits.
The McCall store has a new ice cream counter, long a tradition at Thrifty Drug Stores, a California chain bought as part of the PayLess deal.
“With McCall being that resort-like destination, we knew we had to put it in there,” Stroup said.
Rite Aid has also opened up its pharmacy, adding a kiosk where pharmacists will be more easily available to customers. The company’s goal, with a concept it calls RxEvolution, is to have pharmacists engage with pharmacy customers 80 percent of the time, an increase from 20 percent.
“Our pharmacists will no longer be walled off and under-utilized,” Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan told PennLive.
The remodeled pharmacy space also includes an added consultation room and a virtual care room.
“It’s an opportunity for the pharmacist to have some private space with a customer,” said Brooke Elliott, a Rite Aid regional pharmacy leader based in Boise. “In the virtual care room, you can get online and talk to a health care provider via video conferencing.”
The store also features an expanded beauty section that includes holistic products and organic products. Pharmacists are encouraged to recommend those products when appropriate and not just focus on prescription medications, Elliott said.
Donigan has said that Rite Aid is looking to attract more women ages 25 to 49 to its stores. The company follows social media influencers to help highlight trending beauty items.
The remodeling of the Boise store began in January. The work took less than three months to complete, longtime store manager Ian Osgood said.
The store is open 24 hours a day and is Rite Aid’s best-performing store in the Treasure Valley.
“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from our customers,” Osgood said.