Rx for Change: Walgreens

Sharon Olsen of KSA Lighting Lights Wallgreens

When competing pharmacy chains began paying attention to aesthetics, Walgreens decided to up its game.

ConTech one-circuit track and gimbal ring track fixtures  

Since Walgreens had been challenged recently by competitors such as CVS and WalMart, its executives wanted to reinforce Walgreens’ presence in its hometown of Chicago with a new flagship that elevates the brand from a local store to something much bigger.  

For example, does your local pharmacy chain have a sushi bar? Does it offer fresh pastries and breads that are baked on-site? Is there a juice bar or a counter for ordering malted milkshakes? While such an eclectic array of goods and services make this 25,000-sq.-ft. Chicago Walgreens stand out, so does its contemporary design by Ted Theodore Jr. of Camburas & Theodore Architects, a full- service architectural firm headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois. 

Built to comply with the latest energy codes in the Windy City, this resulting modern design is one of the first Walgreens stores in Chicago testing LED in a large format store. Assisting in the lighting specifications was Sharon Olsen of KSA Lighting, a renowned agency in the Chicago metro area that recently opened a Lighting Education Center that showcases healthcare, educational, and decorative vignettes along with the latest in LED technology.

Olsen recommended ConTech’s one-circuit track and gimbal ring track fixtures with a spot optic to provide indirect lighting from drywall coffers that were built to tuck track into ceiling for a more streamlined appearance. 

“They wanted to make a statement by bringing Chicago into this store (with the large floor-to- ceiling windows) while breaking the traditional mold of what Walgreens is known for, such as prescriptions and necessary consumer goods,” explains Michael Lehman, ConTech Lighting’s VP/Marketing, Product Development & Design. “The decorative store and the new items are how they are breaking the mold. The store incorporates many new design elements, including curved/lighted display cases and signage, high ceilings, recessed coves, plus recessed and decorative lighting.  In addition, the evolution from basic linear ‘institutional’ fluorescent lighting to decorative, color filled, aimable layered lighting (accent, general, and decorative) that is sustainable creates a whole new customer experience for Walgreens. While this is a flagship store, certain elements may be rolled out to other locations if appropriate.” 

The feedback from Walgreens customers has been exclusively positive. “The store appearance, light fixture quality, and lighting quality in the store create an outstanding customer experience,” Lehman recounts. “Walgreens [executives] also appreciate the lower energy cost and lower maintenance cost.  Lighting design really does impact the bottom line of a retail store. It is not just about having the proper [illumination], it is about creating a great customer experience.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *