Bartell Drugs has more than 60 stores sprinkled throughout the Puget Sound region, with each location featuring its own distinct neighborhood vibe and products. It’s a chain with an eye on growth and innovation, and a string of initiatives in the works, yet it never loses sight of its deep Northwest roots.
Its extensive selection of locally derived products is unparalleled and also is one of the noted hallmarks of its brand, the company said. These and other factors provide wide recognition of Bartells throughout the region, according to company executives. The retailer’s commitment to the local region is not only evidenced by the more than 150 local products available to shoppers, but also through such in-store initiatives and special vendor sampling during events as “Loving Local,” which takes place in February, and “Shop Local,” which takes place in November.
Family-owned since 1890, Bartell Drugs has a long-standing reputation of focusing on local and providing personalized customer service, but in today’s highly competitive market, such efforts are becoming increasingly vital. In fact, the stakes got even higher last year when CVS Health announced the opening of some 30 CVS Pharmacy locations in Target stores on Bartell’s home turf. The openings were in addition to the seven free-standing CVS Pharmacy locations already operating within the state.
Fresh food focus
Despite its strong foothold in the region, company executives are not resting on their laurels. At the front of the store, for example, Bartell Drugs is placing an emphasis on fresh foods. Consumers are demanding fresher options for grab-and-go foods, as well as healthier ingredients and local producers.
Its Fresh Food Fast is delivering on this with 12 locations, featuring fresh, locally made sandwiches and salads, as well as easy-to-find spots in stores with convenience items, including nuts, protein bars and other packaged on-the-go foods, said company executives. The company plans to expand the program as it opens new stores and looks for opportunities within stores slated for remodeling.
Furthermore, Bartell was the first drug store to launch on Amazon Prime Now in November and has since expanded the one-hour online ordering and delivery service. The service allows Prime members in Seattle to easily shop thousands of health, beauty, grocery, snacks, local products and more from Bartell Drugs and have those items delivered right to their door for free in two hours. The expansion, announced at the end of January, provides even larger service coverage into additional Seattle and eastside neighborhoods.
In pharmacy, Bartell is taking part in an initiative to increase pharmacy-based immunizations. Launched by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores — in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, Bartell Drugs and QFC Pharmacy — the demonstration project will examine innovative healthcare collaborations designed to demonstrate increased rates of pharmacy-based immunizations. It also focuses on improving pandemic planning among pharmacies and state health departments, and improving access to HPV vaccine resources and education for pharmacists.
Project VACCINATE, funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NACDS grants, began implementation in 40 stores in September 2016 to enable proactive immunization forecasting, patient outreach and documentation in the state immunization information system. After preliminary work, a pilot of the payment model began in stores in March 2017, with pandemic influenza exercises planned with demonstration pharmacies this spring, noted company executives.
Meanwhile, the company is looking to expand its CareClinic footprint. Through a collaboration with Group Health, which was recently acquired by Kaiser Permanente, Bartell operates 10 CareClinics, with five new clinics scheduled to open this year.