Fla. Sam’s Club caters to community’s ‘eyes & ears’

2/9/2009

LADY LAKE, Fla. —Competitors of conventional chain drug stores come in many forms, and in this central Florida retirement haven the newest entrant to the market is Sam’s Club.

The $44 billion warehouse club division of Walmart Stores opened its 600th unit here last month, and what makes the 134,000-sq.-ft. unit of interest to chain drug competitors is the retailer’s approach to pharmacy and ancillary products and services.

“We have an expanded pharmacy offering branded, $4 and $9 prescriptions, a hearing aid center and an optical department with a dedicated doctor of optometry,” said club manager Dan Goodson.

In addition to the pharmacy and the flat rate pricing program, an expanded assortment of health and beauty items are merchandised on three long runs of low-rise fixtures with such key items as Slim-Fast and Joint Juice featured on end-cap pallet displays. The new club also features a first-of-its-kind hearing center where free screenings are offered in an enclosed booth at the front of the club. Other products with a direct appeal to seniors include conventional scooters and an eye-catching Shoprider Flagship Scooter available with a bright blue or red enclosure for $5,999.

The club also offered a wide range of screenings near the pharmacy. Some were free, such as cholesterol, blood glucose and bone density tests, while there was a charge for others. For example, there was a $29 charge for a lipid profile, a $45 charge for a PSA test and a $35 charge for an allergy test.

While Sam’s newest club location offers much from a healthcare perspective, it falls short in one key respect. The pharmacy, optical department and hearing center are all located in separate areas. Although each department is near the front of the club, Sam’s could conceivably cluster these departments together to make a more powerful statement around healthcare that also would be more convenient for customers to shop. Another issue involves the location of the pharmacy.

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