Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain, with more than 8,100 stores, so you wouldn’t think the reopening of a single location would merit a ribbon-cutting ceremony or a DJ. But the store in question, No. 6159 in Manhattan’s Union Square, is the company’s latest attempt to distinguish itself from its competitors, and so its Thursday debut received no small amount of fanfare.
The store, which is open 24 hours a day, is one of 13 Walgreens flagships around the country. They’re all in big cities and serve, in part, as laboratories to test products and services that might also do well in the suburbs. “We had a fairly vanilla approach to expansion before,” says Skip Bourdo, a vice president at Walgreens. “Now we have to customize our stores. Our flagships are where we experiment.”