Friday, August 13, 2010

Charles Walgreen understood community, neighborhoods and food.

Bankers, Judges, Lawyers and neighbors used to flock into the lunch counter at the drug store counter on Main Street in Hillsboro, Oregon, where my grandmother worked. Customers crowded the counter each wanting her homemade soup or special of the day. In the early 1950’s this small town drug store was the center of the community and my grandmother after retiring from farming in Minnesota was the towns informal social secretary, and chief cook.

Like thousands of other drug stores this one was modeled the one Charles Walgreen build in Chicago in the 1920’s. To quote from his story “ Walgreen once again demonstrated his knack for helping his company while better serving the public. From then on, through the 1980s, food service was an integral part of the Walgreens story. Every Walgreens was outfitted with comfortable, versatile soda fountain facilities serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just as Walgreen had reasoned, customers coming to the stores for food usually stayed to purchase other necessary items. And with its friendly waitresses, wholesome food and fair prices, loyalty to Walgreens increased exponentially.”

Walgreen’s will be successful with retail foodservice. It is their heritage, part of a culture that we see in retail foodservice today: local, sustainability and fresh. Albeit repackaged foodservice with contemporized consumer relevance, Walgreens understands today’s consumer and the grocerant fresh prepared food niche.

Young MBA’s from top tier schools and legacy consultants focused on only the here and now don’t understand the retail foodservice culture. In turn creating local culture in a large company is a near impossible task for many a company but not for Walgreen’s. The Hartman Group understands culture, for those of you need assistance you might want to call them!

To quote a good friend of mine “What goes around comes around. Foodservice in the drug stores used to be standard practice and a key place for people to meet 40 years ago. They prepared meals, coffee, ice cream. etc. Everyone in small towns used to hang out at the local drug store. Today's marketing whiz kids don't understand history because they never study it or respect it.”

The legacy of Charles Walgreen will contribute too the success and efforts of reintroducing fresh food into the community, neighborhoods around the US; building top line sales and bottom line profits. Success does leave clues and the team at Walgreen’s has picked them up! Understanding retail foodservice success is an art.

Grocerant program assessments available visit: . Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven  Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit or on Facebook 253-759-7869

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