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Planning Commission

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Dec 20

The Corner Drug Store

Posted on December 20, 2016 at 5:22 PM by Michael Stokes

The Pharmaceutical industry requires chain stores and independently operated stores to have a widespread geographic presence of conveniently located stores servicing the health needs of the public. In most cases, drug stores with a broad geographic presence typically have an advantage over independent stores.  Additionally, since many Americans rely upon large pharmacies as a primary healthcare source, these stores are more capable of negotiating low prescription prices with large insurance and pharmaceutical companies. 

Throughout the county, state and nation, the big three chain drug stores, Walgreens with 7,941 stores nationwide,  CVS with 7,458 stores and Rite Aid with 4,623 stores account for much of the pharmaceutical sales.  The other major pharmaceutical sales leaders are Walmart and many of the national grocery stores.  Small independent stores play a minor role in the current pharmaceutical business, though some have maintained an important community niche by loyally serving local customers.

Over the past two decades, many large chain drug stores have been developed through fee for service or self-development on long term ground leases.  It appears that the big three drug stores will generally only consider properties about 2 acres in size at prominently high volume intersections with a traffic signal and easy access.  Typically their preferred store is about 15,000 square feet in size with a corner entrance and a parking lot on two sides of the building accommodating about 60- 70 cars.  Another side of the building contains a drive-through window, while typically the remaining side would enable deliveries.  Sufficient signage on the site is another element that the major drug stores require.  In all cases, they insist on a free standing sign.  In most cases this would be a pylon sign with a LED reader board.  They also require significant building signage. 

Despite these requirements, developers of drug stores are still subject to local zoning.  Their preferred building design can be modified to reflect local architecture and site conditions.  During the review of a drug store land development, the municipality should be aware of the needs of the developer in meeting their basic business requirements while effectively ensuring that the new drug store fits into the community.  In order to locate a new drug store in a desirable location, local drug store developers can be creative in addressing local concerns.  As with many forms of development, the best solutions occur when their is productive dialogue between the developer and municipality.
Albrechts Site Award Winner 1999
Rite_Aid on Montgomery Avenue in Narberth

Audubon CVS
CVS in Audubon with preserved historic inn

CVS Broad Axe II
CVS in Broadaxe with sensitive architectural treatments on building and signage

Pennsburg Rite Aid III
Rite Aid in Pennsburg with a wall and landscaping along Main Street

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