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Hy-Vee adds to its pharmacy reach with purchase of two independents

BY Jim Frederick

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa Supermarket and pharmacy retailer Hy-Vee Inc. has purchased two more independently owned pharmacies in its home state.

The deals include the buyout of a Medicap Pharmacy in Clarinda, Iowa and Boyes Pharmacy, an independent located in Faribault, Iowa. Terms were not disclosed.

The inventory and prescription files in Faribault were moved Monday to the Hy-Vee combination food-drug store in that town, but Hy-Vee said it would continue to operate the Medicap in Clarinda as a stand-alone satellite pharmacy of its nearby Hy-Vee unit, beginning Jan. 12, 2009.

In line with that decision, the chain revealed plans to remodel its Clarinda supermarket and add a pharmacy department to the store. When the renovation is complete, Hy-Vee said it will close the satellite drug store and move those script files to its remodeled combo store.

Plans for the Clarinda model are “still in the drawing stage,” Hy-Vee announced, adding “a construction timetable has not been established yet.”

The owners of both independent drug stores indicated that the dismal economic climate played a big role in their decision to sell. “It’s in the best interest of our patients and staff to be part of an organization as stable as Hy-Vee so that the pharmacy business can remain strong in Clarinda well into the future,” said Medicap owner Steve Mowery. He added that “small town pharmacies are very vulnerable in these shifting economic times.”

Hy-Vee, for its part, appears to be riding out the stormy economy by scooping up some weaker drug store competitors. The chain now operates 224 supermarkets, food-drug combo stores and stand-alone pharmacies in seven Midwestern states, including a total of some 200 pharmacies.

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Tops plans store renovations; considers opening seven to 10 new stores

BY Jenna Duncan

BUFFALO, N.Y. Tops Markets announced this week that it may add seven to 10 stores to its roster and also may overhaul existing stores with a $150 million renovation plan.

Tops has said that its plans for renovations are part of a strategy to strengthen competition as the nation’s leading U.S. grocery chain. The renovation plans would be applied to 60 of the 76 Tops stores and would take about five years to complete, the company said. Tops also said that new stores would be located in Rochester, Buffalo and New York City, New York.

The Tops network of grocery stores was acquired last year from Royal Ahold by Morgan Stanley Private Equity for $310 million.

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Party Beans lets online shoppers design and send candy tins as inexpensive holiday gift

BY Melissa Valliant

FAIRFIELD, Calif. A brand new startup called PartyBeans was launched Thursday and allows users to inexpensively create, personalize and ship their own JellyBelly, mints or gum tin. The site provides Christmas images or graphics for other special holidays, including birthday, anniversary, Hannukah, New Year and graduation, or users can upload their own photos, logos or images.

The tins can also fit a few lines of text, so designers can include a message, and they can be filled with either a mix of various JellyBelly flavors, or one or two flavors selected by the creator. The finished product will barely affect buyers’ wallets, costing a minimum of $5, shipping included.

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