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GiantMicrobes expands line of toys

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — GiantMicrobes has developed a new line of educational plush toys that are modeled after tiny organisms.

New to the lineup are toys that resemble magnified microbes of hay fever, a tick and a brain cell.

Original-sized GiantMicrobes (5-in. to 7-in. sizes) retail for $8.95, while GiantMicrobes petri dishes (three mini-microbes packaged in a dish) retail for $12.95, and Gigantics (15-in. to 20-in. sizes) retail for $29.95. The brain cell plush toy is available as a key chain, GiantMicrobes said, and retails for $5.95.

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Magnacca’s know-how will bring WAG to the next level

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Joe Magnacca brings to bear a menagerie of merchandising savvy that will help Walgreens on its way to well. That savvy includes some "old world" retailing perspective by way of Canada’s Shoppers Drug Mart, where a focus on beauty and convenience is paramount. And his recent meteoric rise through the ranks of Duane Reade is testament to just how well he connected with the denizens of the most-populated city in the United States through enhanced merchandising and marketing.

(THE NEWS: Magnacca’s role at WAG expands. For the full story, click here)

As Walgreens looks to apply the best of Duane Reade to its other 7,000-plus stores, clearly the chief architect of that DR makeover will play a key role. Magnacca just sees things differently, and no doubt his unique vision will identify entirely new ways for Walgreens to look at and market to its customers.

"As a Canadian, we look at the drug store industry a little bit differently because we have more of a European slant on the overall business," Magnacca told Drug Store News during a Duane Reade store tour in late 2009. "If you look at the European model, they are certainly more advanced from a beauty point of view and from a convenience point of view. The European business model has really demonstrated how you can take drug to the next level."

When Magnacca joined Duane Reade in 2008, he brought that fresh perspective and merchandising expertise that resulted in such enhancements as expanded grocery and fresh foods; the DR Delish private brand; upscale beauty departments; the Duane Reader “magalogue” packed with exclusive products, bargains and tips; and the FlexRewards loyalty program that replaced the retailer’s Dollar Rewards.

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Meijer to overhaul Mich., Ohio stores with $75 million investment

BY Allison Cerra

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Midwest retailer announced it would invest $75 million in a major remodel project that would benefit stores in two states.

Meijer said 10 stores in Michigan and Ohio would benefit from the initiative. The retailer projected that the remodeling program would be completed by the end of the year.

As part of the remodel project, Meijer will roll out specific enhancements both inside and outside the store, including lighting, heating, refrigeration, exterior lighting and parking lot maintenance. Additionally, the introduction of newer technology in key areas during the remodel process will result in reduced energy usage and more energy-efficient stores.

"We are pleased to reinforce our commitment to these communities," said Hank Meijer, co-chairman and CEO of Meijer. "Our customers expect high standards from us, and our investment in these stores will ensure they continue to receive our best."

In related news, Meijer also will invest $25 million to open two new stores this year. These include a 192,000-sq.-ft. supercenter in Stevensville, Mich., and Meijer’s third small-format store, which will be located in the Chicago suburb of Melrose Park.

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