If you haven't heard of the recent pharmacy battle that has been occurring in Duluth this past year... well, you may have been living under a rock. America's top pharmacies are facing off each other in a race to take over the Twin Ports market. Walgreens, who currently has five locations in Duluth, has been rebuilding it's locations in Duluth for the past decade. It all started back almost 10 years ago when Walgreens built it's new Superior location. The new location not only featured a larger foot print and more attractive facade, but also a drive thru. Something the Twin Ports area was lacking. After that location in the early 2000's they relocated the West Duluth location from the Spirt Valley area to the area over by Denfeld High School, on a site that previously was home to a grocery store. This new store was even larger than the current one in Superior and featured a new, more modern design, and of course... a drive thru. Then in 2008 Walgreens decided to relocate it's store that was in the Miller Hill Mall to the corner site they had been dreaming of that previously housed a Hardee's restaurant. Once again that location was even larger than the West Duluth location. Then this past year Walgreen's opened up it's new East Duluth location that is located only a block down from it's previous store. The new East Duluth store (which opened in October 2011) features the most current prototype design and the largest footprint out of all the Duluth locations. What's next? Well, after Walgreens acquired all the Falk's Pharmacy accounts and opened up a temp shop in Kenwood, they began trying to build a new Kenwood store. After years of fighting, they finally succeeded and currently are building their newest store on the corner of Arrowhead Road and Kenwood Avenue. The new location, set to open in Summer 2012, will be completely different than any of the other Walgreens in the area. It's facade is strictly modern, featuring large windows and metal accents. The new store, against the likes of Walgreen's corporation, does not actually face the corner. The back side of the store runs up against the corner, while the entrance lies on Kenwood Avenue. Whew! That's enough Walgreen's talk right? Turns out they are not done yet! This week plans were submitted to the city of Cloquet for a new Walgreen's location to be built on Doddridge Avenue. The new store will be 14,550 square feet and will feature a slightly more traditional look, very similar to the new location in East Duluth. If all goes correctly, the new store will start construction this coming spring and hopefully be open by mid winter or spring 2013. Now this makes one think...why would they be doing all this work? One acronym. CVS. The nations largest pharmacy chain (with over 6,000 locations, 1,000 more than Walgreen's) is making it's way into the Twin Ports market next year. CVS entered the Minnesota market back in the early 2000's and now has over 40 locations in the state. They are still expanding rapidly in the Twin Cities area, while also started to maintain a growth in the smaller sectors of Minnesota. But the thing one must remember with CVS is that when they come, they come in numbers...and one must also remember they like to be as close to the competition as possible. CVS will officially be opening three locations in the Twin Ports in the next two years, with a possible fourth. The previously announced locations will be in West Duluth (directly across from Walgreen's where the old Spur station and new redevelopment is occurring), East Duluth (directly across from Walgreen's where the old SA Station was and the Plaza Strip center currently is), and in Superior (on the corner of 28th Street and Tower Avenue where an old gas station currently is... where the it site happens to be only 5 blocks away from the current Walgreen's location).
A fight has begun. Sources say that when all is said and done the Twin Ports area could house up to seven of each type of pharmacy. Currently sources say an additional CVS location is being scouted out by the Miller Hill Mall, while both chains would also like a location farther out in West Duluth and farther out in East Duluth. How can that work? They both actually thrive off of each other's business. If Walgreen's doesn't have something, CVS does. And if CVS doesn't have something, Walgreen's will be sure to stock it. Thus the reason for the proximity of their stores.
So in a few years when everything has finally be constructed, Twin Ports residents will never have to fear about where the closest pharmacy is. Because odds are, there probably will be on the corner right down from you.
Below are some images of what the new Walgreen's in Cloquet will look like.
(Below are some images of what the new Walgreen's being constructed in Kenwood will look like)