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Walgreens to open first Alaska stores

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens revealed today it will open its first stores in Alaska next year, marking a major milestone for the drug store megachain as it powers its way to its oft-stated goal of 7,000 stores by 2010. The grand opening next year will make Walgreens the first drug store chain to operate in all 50 states.

Walgreens, which also has stores in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, said it expects its first store to open in Anchorage in the summer of 2009, with two more locations opening before the end of the calendar year. The company said it would initially focus on Anchorage and south-central Alaska, although no specific sites have been announced.

“With a fast-growing over-65 population, the need for pharmacy and related health services is expanding in Alaska,” said William Hose, Walgreens’ recently named vice president of store operations for Alaska. “We’ll help meet those needs with services that are currently hard to find or don’t exist in the market.”

Walgreens acknowledged the logistical hurdles the company faces in its leap to the far north. “Staying connected to the Lower 48 can be challenging at times, but Walgreens will make that easier through special pharmacy and digital photo services,” company spokesman Michael Polzin noted in a statement. “With all Walgreens pharmacies across the country electronically connected, a patient’s prescription information is available at any Walgreens when they’re traveling.

“That also makes taking care of prescription needs easier for residents who spend any extended time outside Alaska,” the company asserted. “And with digital photo services available both in-store and online at Walgreens.com, customers can send photos to any Walgreens drugstore nationwide for pickup by family or friends in an hour.”

Hose said the chain would work with local vendors to provide products specific to the needs of the Alaska market. “We’ll learn from our local vendors what is important to Alaska’s customers, and that will be reflected in our merchandise offerings,” he said.

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Feyissa wins Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

BY Michael Johnsen

CLEVELAND Retta Feyissa of Ethiopia last week was the first runner to cross the finish line at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon with a time of 2 hours 33 minutes and 34 seconds.

As of the morning of the race, more than 10,400 participants were registered for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K, event organizers reported, though rain before and during the early part of the race may have kept some registrants from participating.

Second and third place in the marathon were taken by two Ohio master’s-age runners: James Beyer, 40, Dayton, with a time of 2:34:52; and Rob Juergens, 44, Avon Lake, in 2:35:43.

The separate 10K race, which annually attracts elite international runners, was dominated by three Kenyans who raced side-by-side from start to finish. John Itati, 34, won the race with a time of 29:30. Second was Robert Letting, 21, in 29:32, and third was George Misoi, 24, finishing in 29:33. Misoi won Cleveland’s 10K last year.

The women’s 10K also was swept by elite runners from Kenya. Jane Murage won with a finishing time of 33:12. Second was Florence Jepkosgei, 24, in 33:21, and third was Evelyne Lagat, 28, in 33:33.

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Longs to donate to wildfire victims in Calif.

BY Alaric DeArment

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. Longs Drug Stores announced Friday that it would donate supplies to victims of wildfires in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains.

The supplies are comprised of bottled water and nutritional bars. The wildfires began early Thursday morning and quickly spread, consuming more than 1,000 acres within four hours, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Longs has 516 pharmacies along the West Coast and in Hawaii.

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