Wait, is that an Ace Hardware in a Walgreens or CVS building?

I recently saw a commercial for Ace Hardware touting that they sell Benjamin Moore paint. But, the image of the their building stopped me from paying attention to paint:


This does not look like any Ace Hardware building I have seen before. Instead, it looks like it used to be either a Walgreens or CVS. The building structure says chain drugstore: dual automatic doors at the front, the angled entryway, the high windows on the sides. The few glimpses of the inside in the commercial look similar to a drugstore (even if it is hard to imagine paint at the front of a Walgreens.)

Did Ace take over a former drug store building and then use it in the commercial? Or, is this a backlot creation? I found a Florida Ace commercial that features the same structure in the beginning.

Brands have a whole set of items that go with them: a logo, a jingle, a slogan, colors, and buildings. The buildings might get less attention – they are not in radio commercials, they do not often feature in print ads, and videos may or may not included interior and exterior shots – but they matter for the brand and the experience. I imagine many American consumers could drive by empty malls, strip malls, and shopping areas and identify the stores that used to be in the building without any signs or lettering present. Many of them have a similar look across the United States, even if they occasionally try to “fit in” with local styles, meet local guidelines, or embody more uniqueness.

The rise of dollar stores and the questions that should follow

In recent years dollar stores have had a lot of growth:

Surveys have shown that today’s shoppers are more likely to make purchases in dollar stores lately, and chains such as Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Family Dollar have experienced outstanding sales growth as a result…

Now, according to a study by retail research firm Colliers International, dollar store locations outnumber drugstore locations in the U.S. Specifically, Colliers added up the number of locations for four national dollar store chains (Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, 99 Cents Only), and compared that figure to the total number of locations for the country’s three biggest drugstore chains (CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens).

The tally, as of mid-2001, stood at 21,500 dollar stores vs. 19,700 drugstores…

Also, the dollar store chains have all experienced remarkably strong sales in recent years, and have been expanding like crazy as a result. Dollar General, for example, has nearly doubled its location total over the past decade, 5,000 to more than 9,500 stores today. And counting.

I’ve wondered recently why Walmart gets a lot of attention while drug stores, particularly Walgreens in this area, and dollar stores have been expanding. Whenever I walk into a Walgreens, I can’t help but think they are mini-Walmarts. Walgreens sells everything from prescriptions to ice cream to photos to cosmetics and so on. Dollar stores are similar but cheaper, selling everything from food to detergent to household supplies.

After noting the growth in dollar stores, we could ask some questions about the effects these stores have. Clearly, they offer cheap goods. But: Are dollar stores good for the local economy? Do they provide good jobs? Do they tend to be found in areas of sprawl or strip malls and are dependent on automobile traffic? Are the goods primarily made in the US or overseas? Is the food for sale healthy? Perhaps these questions aren’t asked since it is assume dollar stores will recede in popularity when the economy improves. But since this likely won’t be for a while, shouldn’t we think about what it means to have a lot of dollar stores?

Walgreens and food deserts in Chicago

Chicago Breaking Business reports that Walgreens is about to unveil expanded food offerings in a South Side store in Chicago. The expanded food line at 10 Walgreens stores is part of an effort to help combat the city’s food deserts:

The stores will offer more than 750 new food items such as fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meat and fish, pasta, rice, beans, eggs and whole-grain cereals. The Deerfield-based drug store chain said it was approached by Mayor Richard Daley last year to bring more healthy food to areas that the city has identified as food deserts, namely neighborhoods that lack supermarkets.

Large American cities often struggle with this issue: low-income neighborhoods that have little or no access to fresh and healthy food. If the only options available are buying food from a convenient store or gas station, it is more expensive and less healthy. In the long run, this has consequences for building wealth and public health.