OfficeMax founder floats Max-Wellness concept

12/8/2008

CLEVELAND —The founders of a new healthcare superstore concept called Max-Wellness already have disclosed plans for a national rollout, even though the concept’s viability won’t be determined until early next year, when the first units open.

The concept is the brainchild of former OfficeMax chairman and chief executive officer Michael Feuer and Jared Florian, the founder and chairman of Universal Screen Arts, a catalog and Internet company specializing in gifts, home décor, books and senior healthcare products. Their vision for Max-Wellness is to create a national chain that provides products and services that help aging Baby Boomers live well and stay well.

“You’ve never seen anything like it before, because there has never been anything like it before,” proclaimed a Max-Wellness brochure.

The concept is positioned as a destination for all things health-and-wellness related, and stores will reportedly range in size from 6,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet and will offer between 30,000 and 40,000 items. The first units will open in Cleveland and in Naples and Fort Myers, Fla.

“Max-Wellness will add drama, theater, organization and education information to the in-store, online and catalog equation, bringing products to life by translating what they are into how they can provide a solution,” according to the company.

Stores will be staffed by professionally-dressed and trained personnel, who will provide answers to consumers’ healthcare questions. “This will not be achieved by guesswork, but instead by utilizing technology put at the fingertips of every Max-Wellness associate to access healthcare solutions,” according to the company. “This will create an environment where Max-Wellness will quickly be established and recognized as the go-to store for better living.”

The merchandise assortment will feature supplements, sports nutrition, vitamins, health and beauty care products, personal healthcare items, homeopathic products, self care items and full pharmacies in select stores.

After opening the initial prototype stores, a national rollout will commence in 2010, with the addition of 10 to 15 stores, followed by 30 to 50 units in subsequent years.

Initial funding will come from Feuer and Florian, neither of whom has experience in the health care field, a fact that actually could work in their favor as they look to reinvent the retail healthcare experience. Feuer certainly knows what is involved in the process, as he built OfficeMax from a single store in 1988 to the nation’s third-largest office super-store with nearly 1,000 stores and annual sales of roughly $5 billion.

It remains to be seen whether the unproven Max-Wellness can find a customer base, and whether it can achieve profitable sales. However, as was the case with the office products space in the late 1980’s when OfficeMax was founded, the market for healthcare products and services is fragmented and poised for growth, due to the affluent Baby Boomer generation’s desire to live well and stay well.

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