Drugstores have been around in the US for over a century, a place where people could go to get medication in times of need. Modern drugstores are so much more than the pharmacies they solely used to be, and one of the companies leading the way is Walgreens.
What is Walgreens, though? How does it serve its customers, and what does it offer? Look no further for the answers you need! I researched the matter, and here’s everything I discovered about Walgreens.
What Is Walgreens?
Walgreens is a Deerfield, Illinois-based chain of pharmacy drug stores, the second-largest in the US as of 2024. It merged with Alliance Boots in 2014 and has since operated as a subsidiary of that new holding company. Alongside the customary pharmacy, Walgreens sells a variety of general merchandise, including OTC medicine, food, and health and beauty products.
To learn more about what type of store Walgreen is, what it’s known for, how it differs from its competition, what products it sells, and so much more, keep reading!
What Type Of Store Is Walgreens?
Walgreens stores are drugstores, with pharmacies and general merchandise, like health and hygiene products, beauty, food, drinks, and more.
Also, the Walgreens company is actually over 100 years old, having been founded in 1901 in Chicago, Illinois.
12 years later, the founder, Charles Walgreen, operated four stores in the city, and six years later, he had 20 Walgreens drugstores.
Despite massive expansion all around the country, with over 9,000 locations, and the merger with Alliance Boots, Walgreens stores remain true to their roots.
For example, this article describes how Walgreens effectively maintains its “corner drugstore” designation by putting store entrances “on the street with the most traffic flow.”
Walgreens stores are bright and cheerful, vary in size based on location, but average about 14,500 square feet.
Additionally, some Walgreens locations even comprise two floors, but those particular locations are few.
Moreover, many Walgreens now have drive-thru pharmacy windows, and the company offers online ordering with curbside pick-up.
What Is Walgreens Known For?
There are several things Walgreens is known for, and here’s a brief list:
In the 120+ years of its operation, Walgreens has had plenty of time to establish itself as a trusted source of medicine and other goods.
Today, Walgreens positions itself as a leader in disseminating health information that the everyday person needs to know.
While printed photos aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, Walgreen is still the company many people think of when they want to print their images.
Yes, Walgreens once sold ice cream “on tap,” and the company actually had a pretty big hand in popularizing the cold, sweet treat!
How Is Walgreens Different?
Walgreens has a lot of competition in the drugstore market; despite its success, it’s still in second place, behind CVS.
But, Walgreens has always positioned itself differently from its competition, and it has done so in one major way by considering its stores more than a pharmacy.
That said, Walgreens makes it known that its pharmacists are more than just pill dispensers.
Instead, the company views itself as an integral part of the healthcare field, one of the most accessible ways by which the general American public can access health information and care.
With that, consider how the company has offered walk-in immunizations or kept medical professionals on-staff with training in highly complex medical conditions like oncology and HIV.
Further, Walgreens emphasizes and encourages customers to treat the pharmacy staff as fonts of information; pharmacy patrons can schedule sit-downs to consult on prescription medical treatments.
Also, Walgreens added trained beauty consultants in about a third of its stores to help customers navigate cosmetics and lend stores a certain glamor and authority.
Finally, the company has partnered with FedEx, making many stores designated pick-up and drop-off spots for the mail courier.
What Does Walgreens Sell?
Walgreens, as a pharmacy, obviously sells many different kinds of prescription medication across all different types of illnesses and diseases.
Additionally, the drugstore chain sells:
- Personal care
- Medicines and treatments
- Vitamins and supplements
- Home health care solutions
- Pet products
- Home goods
- Electronics and office
- Household essentials
- Limited grocery items, including pantry essentials, refrigerated/frozen foods, and even some fresh produce
- Toys, games, and books
- Baby and kid stuff
- Gift cards
Up at the check-out counter, you can find candy and gum, and behind the counter, you can ask for cigarettes.
Moreover, if your state allows the sale of alcohol in drug stores like Walgreens, that is generally located in the refrigerated coolers, with the other beverages.
What Does Walgreens Sell The Most Of?
When it comes to which products Walgreens sells most, it’s no surprise pharmacy purchases account for as much as 60% of the drugstore chain’s sales.
That said, this indicates that customers trust Walgreens’s solid reputation as an accessible part of the healthcare system.
Further sales tend to come from alcohol, where liquor is permitted in drugstores. According to MarketWatchMag, alcohol can account for as much as 30% of Walgreens’ sales.
In fact, at one time, Walgreens was the second-largest alcohol seller, behind the Pennsylvania state’s liquor control board system.
Is Walgreens Expensive?
Walgreens tends to be the most expensive option compared to similar retail chains.
If you have a tight budget, traveling the extra distance to a Walmart or even CVS could be worth it. But, if money is no object, Walgreens can be a terrifically convenient option.
Does Walmart Own Walgreens?
Walgreens is not owned by or associated with Walmart despite the similar-sounding names. Instead, the two are entirely separate entities.
Further, Walmart stores are part of the Walmart Corporation, owned by the Walton family.
On the other hand, Walgreens is owned by the Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., a merger between Walgreens and Boots Alliance of Switzerland.
Who Is Walgreens’ Competition?
The drugstore market is fiercely competitive, and Walgreens maintains second place to behemoth CVS.
With that, the two have a fairly similar number of stores in the US, but CVS seems to offer significantly better savings beyond pricing.
Additionally, other retailers in the mix include Rite Aid, Walmart, Costco, and even Sally Beauty (for cosmetics).
Walgreens is a chain of drugstores in constant operation for over a century, which prides itself on its in-depth pharmaceutical resources for patrons.
Also, while Walgreens can often be more expensive than its competition, the company justifies it with a commendable commitment to customer care.