Rite Aid gets a makeover: Island drug store is brought up to new company standards

Bainbridge Island’s Rite Aid has received a facelift in recent weeks as part of a store-wide remodel that will provide more than just better aesthetics.

Pharmacy Manager Justin Ausmeier stands at the entrance of the newly remodeled Rite Aid on High School Road that includes new floors

Bainbridge Island’s Rite Aid has received a facelift in recent weeks as part of a store-wide remodel that will provide more than just better aesthetics.

The remodel ultimately accomplishes two things: It upgrades the appearance of the store, and it will change how the store interacts with customers through expanded product lines and hiring tech savvy staff.

“You’ll notice a big difference when you walk in,” said Eric Harkreader with Rite Aid. “The signage is really well-marked. We’ve lowered the shelves; it makes it feel much more open.”

“The store will have an extended line of beauty products,” he added. “Some of the design aesthetics are different too, such as putting in wood flooring. It’s a motif that appears more organic and natural.”

Patrons will easily notice the addition of modern lighting, new floors, paint and a rearranged layout. The pharmacy will also boast a new consultation area.

The cost of the remodel is approximately $28,000, according to city documents.

The physical changes at the Bainbridge Rite Aid are part of larger effort by the company.

The remodel of the Rite Aid in the Village Shopping Center is aimed at bringing the island’s Rite Aid in line with the company’s wellness store format; Rite Aid’s latest configuration emphasizing an expanded selection of wellness products, health resources and clinical services.

In the end, the island Rite Aid will be a little more upscale and unique than its counterparts.

In fact, only 900 stores out of the 4,600 in the nationwide chain are receiving such upgrades. The changes are largely sourced from customer surveys and focus groups.

“It is a store that has been redesigned from a customer service perspective,” Harkreader said.

The format also includes equipping staff with iPads for better customer service.

“We’ll have additional staff in the store — ‘wellness ambassadors’ we call them,” Harkreader said.

The iPads will allow customers to use apps with information about products such as medications and vitamins.

“For instance, there is one app that provides a rough outline of over-the-counter cough and cold products,” Harkreader said. “The point being, that it is a quick introduction and hopefully it gives the customer some background to engage the pharmacist.”

Product lines will also grow, such as health and fitness offerings from books and DVDs to workout equipment. Those products are something that have not regularly been offered in the past.

“We’ve also expanded the grab-and-go convenience items,” Harkreader said. “Customers will notice all new coolers and a dramatically larger assortment of organic and natural foods.”

Rite Aid Corp. submitted an application for its island remodel on April 23. The city approved the permit on June 4.

Rite Aid officials said that the project will not be completed until sometime this month.

An event planned for noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17 will unveil the makeover and provide special attractions for customers.

“We’ll have exclusive health screenings that we don’t normally offer,” Harkreader said. “We’ll have product samples, and giving things away. It’s a good chance to come in and see the new store and meet some of the new associates we’ve brought in.”

Screening for blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, memory, glucose and cholesterol will also be offered to customers at the event.

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