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Unique retail concept casts health and wellness in 3-D

BY Michael Johnsen

WOODMERE, Ohio —The closest development that might best capture the spirit behind the new health-and-wellness concept called Max-Wellness would be 3-D television—because while nobody really knows if 3-D TVs will ever penetrate as many households as plain ole 2-D color television, everyone’s likely to have a damn good time finding out.

Of course, makers of 3-D home theater sets probably aren’t looking to penetrate households en masse, just the highest-earning households. Similarly, Max-Wellness is targeting a higher-income, better-educated demographic than you typically would find bargain shopping down the street in the local Walmart.

Having opened its fourth location just outside of Cleveland in June, Max-Wellness could be described as a pumped-up GNC or Vitamin Shoppe on account of the cast of interactive employees milling about. Or, it may be better identified as a “drug store-light,” given its whole focus on health and wellness—a pharmacy sans pharmacist, so to speak.

But it’s neither of these exactly. The fact is, Max-Wellness CEO Michael Feuer’s retail creation can’t be pigeonholed into any one retail channel, though the stores likely will draw their customer base from any of a number of retailers positioned against health and wellness today. It’s a store concept designed to appeal to today’s health-information-hungry baby boomer consumer, or just about anyone else at all interested in improving their health.

And that means it’s a concept with growth potential—appealing not only to today’s baby boomer, but also tomorrow’s sandwich generation caregiver.

Accentuating the fact that this is a retail concept different from what’s currently on the market, the color of the banner flown by Max-Wellness, as well as all of the signage and wall art found within the store, is orange. “The biggest challenge in retail is telling the customer who you are,” explained Feurer, who is making his second go at revolutionizing retail. Feurer was one of the pioneers behind the growth of the big-box office-supply store as the founder of OfficeMax. The color orange projects both a sense of calm and vibrancy, he said.

The other differentiator can be found just inside the front door: a small circle of health items regularly cycled through according to season—or holiday, as the case may be. During Drug Store News’ mid-June visit to the store, the emphasis was on Father’s Day, featuring a reminder to shoppers, “Give the gift of wellness. Remember Dad. Father’s Day June 20th.” It’s a concept akin to the samplers at Costco.

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FDA advisory committee shoots down Vivus’ Qnexa

BY Alaric DeArment

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. The possibility of a new drug for treating obesity suffered a setback Thursday as a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted against recommending its approval.

The FDA Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 10 to 6 against recommending approval for Vivus’ drug Qnexa (phentermine and topiramate), citing safety concerns such as the possibility of psychiatric problems and birth defects.

“We appreciate the advisory committee’s recognition of obesity as a significant health crisis and the challenges associated with the treatment of this disease,” Vivus CEO Leland Wilson said. “We are disappointed with the advisory committee’s vote.”

The company said it would attempt to address the committee’s concerns. An advisory committee vote is a recommendation, and while the FDA will take it into account when deciding whether to approve a drug, it is not bound to follow it.

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Post-it launches Shopping Genius widget

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON 3M has developed a bargain-shopping widget with the help of its Post-it brand.

Inspired by usage of the classic Post-it note as a shopping list, 3M has developed an evolution of the shopping list for the digital age called Post-it Shopping Genius. How it works: Post-it Shopping Genius sits on your computer desktop, keeping an eye on the price changes for you, locating the cheapest price, and letting you know when it changes. The customizable application enables you to choose from thousands of electricals, durables and other consumer goods, and track up to five at a time.

The application — which can be directly downloaded from http://bit.ly/Post-itGenius and is available on iGoogle, Mac OS X desktop and Windows 7 / Vista desktops — displays up-to-date prices on many thousands of products, which are searchable within the tool.

In related news, 3M announced that it is offering a monthly monetary prize of 1,000 GBP ($1,542) or the value of a user’s shopping list if less as an incentive to those who refer the Shopping Genius application to a friend.

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