Walgreens opens Saturday morning
Published: September 11, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Get in line.
Walgreens is expecting a mad rush Saturday morning as the national drug store chain opens its doors to the Virgin Islands for the first time.
The store is celebrating its grand opening with a Carnival-style parade at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, in which the St. Thomas Majorettes, the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School marching band and color guard and the Infernos Carnival Troupe will perform.
The parade is expected to file down Weymouth Rhymer Highway, starting between Tire Kingdom and Office Maxx, and end at Walgreens. The parade is expected to last about 20 minutes, during which traffic delays can be expected.
After the parade concludes at Walgreens, a ribbon-cutting with Gov. John deJongh Jr., as well as speeches by several special guests, will precede the grand opening.
"I heard yesterday that someone is going to be waiting outside at 7 in the morning," said Justin Woods, the manager of the St. Thomas store.
Walgreens will have between 18,000 and 20,000 items on its shelves for the picking, all of them packed within a 16,000-square-foot building across from Tutu Park Mall.
The store already is almost entirely stocked, with only a few items still to be placed between the rows of cosmetics, foods, household items, office items and miscellaneous goods. A pharmacy and an instant photo processing kiosk also are in the store.
Following its first day, the store will be open between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily, with the pharmacy being open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
The store, which currently is fully staffed, has three employees - the manager, the assistant store manager and the pharmacy manager - who have come from the states to train and assist the other 25 or so employees. No other positions currently are open for hire.
"I think people are going to be shocked to see a different level of service," said Matthew Roudebush, assistant store manager.
The prices will be slightly higher than those found in Walgreens in the states, though they are competitive to local prices and will be knocked down by weekly discounts offered via coupons, according to Woods.
"There will be some very hot prices," he said.
The product mix likely will change with time, as the demand for specific products is expected to drive the product supply. Already, the store is stocked with a unique medley of brands not usually seen in Walgreens in the mainland U.S.
The pharmacy also will carry a variety of medications that are identified as medications in greater need by patients in the territory, according to Woods.
The store, though the first in the territory, will not be the first in the region. Puerto Rico has 109 Walgreens stores, and more than 7,700 are operated throughout the United States.
Woods said that the project to open the first Walgreens in the territory moved along a little more slowly than it would have in the states, as the store initially was expected to open earlier in the year. Construction of the building began a little more than a year ago.
One of the concerns at the onset of the project was traffic and how patrons would enter and exit the parking lot without slowing the traffic into and out of Tutu Park Mall.
The V.I. Public Works Department recently created a turn lane that it hopes will alleviate any traffic build-up resulting from the store's opening and single entry and exit into the store's parking lot. Eastbound vehicles will be able to use the turn lane, and westbound vehicles will be able to turn directly from the westbound lane.
"We're just as excited as the islanders to open up," Roudebush said.
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email email@example.com.