Shanower, off-price drug store visionary, dies at 71
CUMMING, Ga. —Frank Shanower was known as much for his outsized personality and offbeat sense of humor as he was for his skills as a drug store merchant. But his energy and abilities as an intuitive merchandiser, buyer, retail mentor and aggressive but fair negotiator helped define the best principles of deep-discount drug store retailing in his years with Drug Emporium.
Shanower died Sept. 16 at the age of 71, after spending the last years of his life in Cumming, Ga., a community on the far northern edge of Atlanta’s suburbs.
At the apex of his retail career, Shanower was VP vendor relations for Drug Emporium, a pioneering off-price drug chain that operated more than 230 corporate-owned and franchised stores in many major U.S. markets at its peak in the late 1980s. He joined the chain’s corporate headquarters during a reorganization and merger after running a franchised division of Drug Emporium in Atlanta, and helped propel the fast-growing company to short-lived dominance as the nation’s top deep-discount drug chain.
Shanower proved adept at applying the “stack it high, watch it fly” principles that defined deep discounting from the 1970s to the early 1990s, before intense competition and the ascendancy of Walmart brought a close to the off-price drug store concept in all but a few markets—one standout exception being Cleveland-based Marc Glass-man, which continues to thrive in a strong niche. Shanower was known as a skillful deal-maker, negotiating with a host of vendors for the best prices on large quantities of overstock and closeout merchandise for Drug Emporium to move in big volumes at discounted prices through its stores.
Among Shanower’s many fans and friends was Rich Landers, principle with Landers & Associates, a Worthington, Ohio-based brokerage firm that supplies drug stores, mass merchants, supermarkets and other retail outlets. Landers, who worked for several years in the 1980s with Shanower at Drug Emporium headquarters, remembered him as “a memorable character” and “motivator” who was “always upbeat and always positive” in his relations with colleagues and suppliers.
“If I had to sum up, he was so unique and such a character, and every day was such an adventure with Frank,” Landers recalled. “He knew retailing so well, and he was very intuitive about it. Man, could he get stuff out of vendors and negotiate and make sales happen,” he added. “I learned a lot of things about retailing from him. And he was the one who really built that Atlanta franchise.”
Shanower’s survivors include his wife, Joyce Shanower of Cumming, Ga.; daughters and sons-in-law, Lori Klimach of Connecticut, Lisa Shanower of California (a former area sales representative for The Drug Store News Group), Alisa and Bruce Sedacca, Lee and Allie Webb, and Ralph Klimach; sister, Bertie Gressman; and grandchildren, Michael Diamandakis, Hampton and Harper Webb, and Matt and Ben Sedacca.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggested that a donation be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.
CVS’ future rests on front-end, private-label evolution
NEW YORK CVS Caremark has no doubt been a trailblazer in the healthcare arena, positioning itself along the front lines to leverage its various points of care to improve outcomes and lower healthcare costs. But with all that CVS Caremark has done and will continue to do in the healthcare space — and it is no doubt a lot — it still has more than 7,000 retail locations, and the front of the store continues to be a critical part of its business and a major growth driver for the company.
(THE NEWS: At his last analyst day, Ryan sets out course for future CVS Caremark. For the full story, click here)
The front end is an $18 billion business for CVS and to be sure the company continues to look for ways to drive even more productivity out of its stores. It comes as no surprise that one area it will target for additional growth is private label. Private-label penetration currently stands at 17%, and over the next two to three years, company executives expect that number to grow to more than 20%.
"Private-label brands continue to grow and evolve. In this economy, consumers have shown that they are much more willing to try private-label products," Mike Bloom, EVP merchandising and supply chain, told analysts during Friday’s 2010 analyst meeting in New York. He noted that by the end of 2010, CVS/pharmacy will have nearly 5,100 private-label items storewide, which is an increase of 900 items versus last year. Each year, the company adds about 900 new private-label items and leverages ExtraCare to encourage trials among cardholders.
What is news, particularly to suppliers, is that a key component of CVS’ private-label program is an entirely new line that the company plans to introduce in February 2011, called Just The Basics — named to clearly communicate its functional, value-priced, smart, simplicity positioning. What is significant is that the new line is not a national-brand-equivalent type execution, but rather, more of a basic entry-point, low-price alternative.
"Now, while many retailers are stuck in the brand-follower mode of the 1980s, we have evolved to a leadership role," Bloom said.
The company also is increasingly turning to "treasure hunt" items and is using its circulars to drive front-end sales. For example, it recently promoted a WiFi-capable Netbook for $99.99 on the front page of its circular. While a Netbook isn’t your traditional drug store product offering, it has proven to be a hit among shoppers. CVS sold $3 million worth of Netbooks in three weeks, and it will be a $15 million item at CVS, the company said.
Then there’s beauty. As the article states, CVS is piloting a mini format of its Healthy Skincare Centers (in 120 stores) and will launch in January an ExtraCare Beauty Club.
Clearly the front end continues to be a significant growth driver for CVS and that will continue to be the case for a long time to come.
Natural rodent repellant Fresh Cab available at retail
BISMARCK, N.D. An all-natural rodent repellant continues to gain a stronger retail presence with more than 3 million pouches sold, which come in convenient four-pack boxes.
Earth-Kind’s Fresh Cab, created by gardener and environmentalist Warberg Block, uses ground corn cobs soaked in essential botanical oils and packaged in small biodegradable pouches.
Fresh Cab is sold at 15,000 home, garden, hardware and farm and ranch stores throughout the nation.