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CVS/pharmacy offers inexpensive, personalized Vday gifts

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, CVS/pharmacy is reminding shoppers that its stores offer convenient and affordable gift options.

“We’ve seen incredible innovation in greeting cards, which now offer our customers new and exciting ways to express themselves with recordable messages and other customizable options. Personalized tokens of affection, such as these novelty cards and photo gifts are sure to be winners this year, along with the classic gifts of candy and premium chocolate,” stated Mike Bloom, SVP of merchandising, CVS/pharmacy. 

As more consumers watch their dollars, it is likely that shoppers will be interested in more creative and inexpensive ways to express their love to a special Valentine. The National Retail Federation’s 2009 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that more people will send greeting cards and buy gifts than they did last year, with 45% planning to give candy. 

Additional gift items found at CVS stores nationwide include gift cards for a range of retailers like Borders, Nordstrom and DSW; stuffed animals (some that sing and dance); personalized gifts like in-store photo books and Picture Movie DVDs; and bath and beauty products. 

Shoppers can also browse gift selections online and purchase items at CVS.com. 

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Elephant out of business because of economy; lack of financing

BY Michael Johnsen

BERKELEY, Calif. The challenging economy claimed its latest retail victim Tuesday, as Elephant Pharm shuttered its three locations for good after filing for liquidation under chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

The chain’s three locations had been open on Monday.

“The company has been burdened with obligations that were quite difficult for a company of our size to carry,” Elephant Pharm CEO Kathi Lentzsch stated. “The current management team and board of directors worked diligently to grow the company to a size that could bear these obligations, but due to the current economic conditions and the tightening of the credit market, it has not been possible to raise the capital required to continue the business.” 

That suggests the Elephant business may have failed more because of its lack of heft — Elephant fielded the buying leverage of only three locations to fill store shelves in a full-size 12,000-square-foot-plus footprint — than because of its pharmacy business vision as a pharmacy that dispensed both traditional allopathic medicines and Ayurvedic herbs.

Pharmaca, based in Boulder, Colo., fields a similar business model, albeit in a much smaller retail box. Averaging 5,000-square-feet per location, the 23-store chain has secured some $20 million in financing this past spring and has more than doubled in size in the past year.

Executives at Elephant Pharm had been trying to secure additional financing in an exceedingly financing-poor market for the past year. The chain closed its Los Altos, Calif., location, which had been its fourth store, this past September. “In spite of these efforts, the company was ultimately unable to meet its mounting obligations and regretfully had no choice but to close its stores,” the company stated.

 “We are extremely proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish in the 6 years since we opened. We would like to thank our vendors and our very loyal customers for their support over the years.” Lentzsch said. “Elephant has been both a leader in its industry as well as a reflection of a greater societal movement for healthy change.”

Elephant Pharm employed 190 people across its three stores and at the home office.

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Febreze launches Destinations Collection

BY Drug Store News Team

CINCINNATI Febreze has launched its new Destinations Collection, offering fragrances in three scents: Hawaiian Aloha, Brazilian Carnaval and Moroccan Bazaar.

The new collection was inspired in part by the growing “staycation” trend.

“During these uncertain economic times, consumers are becoming more creative in providing escapes for themselves and their families without breaking the bank,” stated Scott Beal, Febreze brand manager. “The Febreze Destinations Collection offers boutique scents from around the world that create a temporary getaway through an authentic scent experience.”

The launch will be supported by an online “From Staycation to Vacation” sweepstakes on www.febreze.com/destinations that will run from Feb. 2 to July 5, 2009.  One grand-prize winner will receive a trip for four to Hawaii, Morocco or Brazil. Ten first-prize winners will receive $1,000 toward a home decor makeover and more than 1,500 consumers will win a coupon redeemable for any Febreze product.   

The Febreze Destination Collection is available nationally at food, drug and mass retailers with prices ranging from $2.99 to $7.99.

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