New Sterling Drug store to offer more

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 28, 2000

One-stop shopping has just taken on a new meaning.

Friday, July 28, 2000

One-stop shopping has just taken on a new meaning.

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Shoppers at the Sterling Shopping Center off First Avenue SW will be shocked, according to Chris Astrup, chief operating officer for Astrup Drug Inc.

At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be very eye-catching, with large amounts of construction equipment scattered about. By this fall, however, the center will have received a facelift, captivating residents with an old-time appearance.

Walking through the main entrance of what will become a new store for Sterling Drug, shoppers will encounter a 5,000-square-foot central area, containing six separate sections featuring a number of different products, including candy, cosmetics, picture frames, as well as bath and body products.

The new store, located at the site previously occupied by Elden’s SuperFair, will resemble an old-fashioned Main Street, an idea taken from the prototype Clancy’s Main Street in Hastings.

"We’re revitalizing that whole area of town," Astrup said. "We’re looking at what the town needs and filling in the voids."

Astrup explained that much of this had to do with the migrating of chain stores into town; this caters more specifically to shoppers’ needs. The new store, while giving shoppers all they want, will do so under one roof.

In addition to the cobblestone fireplace, there will be an 18-foot-wide "street" running the length of the store. Shoppers will be able to browse a number of different departments, each constructed with their own 16-foot main brick storefront and hand-painted wooden signs above.

They are designed to look like downtown shops.

"Each will look different," Astrup said. "Like they were at the turn of the century."

Walking down Main Street, shoppers will encounter a variety of shops, including a one-hour photo, Bruegger’s Bagels and a general store stocked with traditional merchandise such as school supplies and cleaning products.

"We tried to listen to what people want," Astrup said.

What people really wanted was a place to buy groceries; they’ll be able to soon.

The new store will include a Simek’s franchise; Astrup explained that they will be stocking the shelves with the top 1,000 grocery products, including chicken wings and filet mignon.

In planning for the store, Astrup and others shopped in the top stores to determine the retail price; all of the food is frozen, and some may be precooked.

At the two corners of the store, there will be seasonal merchandise. A cobblestone pier will lead shoppers to Halloween merchandise that will change to Thanksgiving and Christmas as months wear on.

Perhaps one of the most appreciated attractions by parents will be an indoor play area for children that Astrup said is similar to an enlarged Burger King PlayPlace.

Educational and specialty toys, their primary stock, will be on tables beneath the play area, which will rise 7 feet off the ground.

If you like to collect trinkets and figurines, there also will be a card and collectibles department in which shoppers can browse, among others, Hallmark and Precious Moments collections.

Other shops include a craft store, which will occupy 200 feet of gondola space with the top-selling materials, a card shop and a health and beauty store. Paying for purchases sends shoppers to one of 12 checkouts in the front of the store.

With many benches and trees lining the streets, there is a real open, comfortable feeling about being there.

"It’s a nice place for the community to spend time if they want, or to get out, as well," said Tim Gallagher, director of pharmacy relations. "Young mothers also can sit and get coffee while their children play. It’s very natural."

If you’re the type of person who hates going to the doctor, or the impersonal feel you may receive at smaller pharmacies, Sam Ewing, general manager of Astrup Drug, insists that won’t be the case when you enter what he called "the pharmacy of the future."

Automated dispensers for filling prescriptions will allow physicians to be up front, engaging in more direct contact with customers.

For shoppers who may be in a bit of a hurry, they may take advantage of the drive-up window, which Ewing called "really convenient."

The store also will feature a wellness center, which will take on a professional look.

"We wanted to bring the pharmacy out front," Ewing said. "In our mind, the future of health is wellness. Instead of treating the sick, we want to keep them healthy."

With top-of-the-line equipment – including tests for osteoporosis, diabetes, cholesterol, glaucoma and body fat – they will be able to do that and then some.

Just seeing the trends in costs of health care these days, Ewing said they saw this as the perfect opportunity to put in this pharmacy.

This is the first of its kind to open in Minnesota; it operates in conjunction with hospitals, the local YMCA, as well as senior citizens.

Ewing explained that a majority of the testing for the pharmacy was done off-site.

"We received an overwhelming, positive response," he said.

With most people uneasy about going to the doctor’s office, something like this is very convenient.

"There’s a better chance they’ll stop here and get tested," Ewing said. "We’re made to work closely with the clinic."

If pharmacists notice individuals prone to specific health problems, they will be referred to a doctor.

With an expected opening date of late September, Astrup said that the 30,000-square-foot building is almost complete.

All the demolition has been completed, and in about two weeks the steel front should be constructed in time for the 44-foot main store front to be enclosed; then all they have to do is put up sheetrock and paint.

While it’s taken a while to complete, Astrup insists it’ll be worth the wait.

"There is so much beauty in here," he said. "You can shop for a long time."