It was a soft opening on June 21. The doors to Hudson's Walgreen's store opened in the early hours of the morning. For residents who have watched the construction start, linger and start again, it gave them a new retail store to explore. For Travis Yates, the manager of the store, it was practically a dream come true. Yates moved to the area from outside Madison to attend UW-River Falls.
"It was the only school in the state that offered a degree in bio-technology," said Yates, who began his career with Walgreen's ten years ago while attending UW-RF. "I worked as a pharmacy technician." Yates started at the store in Oakdale, continued at St. Paul and the last two years he was in Lakeville.
"The Hudson store has been planned for nearly ten years," said Yates, who after graduation decided to switch over to the management side of the company. "As soon as the posting for the Hudson position went up I applied for it."
Walgreen's is undergoing a fundamental change in how their new stores are set up and what they offer. The Hudson store has many of the new features including a grocery section nearly double in size. This store offers 12 doors of coolers. The older stores only had 6 or 7. The freezer section is nine doors compared to five.
The photo lab is up front in line with cash registers, there is no suspended ceiling and the south and east wall feature a lot more windows.
"We have 12,000 square feet of sales floor," said Yates. "That is comparable to other stores that average between 10,000 and 12,000 square feet."
"The average customer is 5 feet 4 inches," said Yates. "The shelves are all lower in this store to make the shopping experience easier than it was in the past." Wide aisles and interior decorator inspired color schemes on the walls help accentuate the open atmosphere which is enhanced by the wall of windows facing the south.
The store has 23 employees including Darlene Olson, who along with Yates, has been anxious for the new store to open. Olson, a Hudson resident and Walgreen veteran of nearly 30 years, first worked with Yates at the Oakdale store at the start of his career.
"Darlene was the first one I called to see if she wanted to transfer," said Yates.
Clinic services will also be offered which will include a wide assortment of common and travel-required immunizations, blood pressure checks, body composition testing and medication compounding.
"We will be the first in the area to offer online ordering of anything in the store," said Yates. "Order online and it will be ready for you to pick up when you stop in."
The store also has a drive-up pharmacy window.
A grand opening is planned for some time in July.
Walgreen's, located 141 Carmichael Road south of Culver's, is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The pharmacy will have different hours. Walgreen's was founded on the south side of Chicago, in 1901 by Charles Walgreen, Sr. Today, there are over 7,900 stores. A complete history of the company can be found at www.walgreens.com/marketing/about/history.