I read with interest "Buying Outside The Box" [Shot of Urban by Michael Haynes, Jan. 19, 2012] as it relates to urban retailing. Mr. Haynes is indeed correct as to Walgreens and other drugstore types expanding their services. In the downtown Knoxville sub-market, there are several grocery retailers. The drugstore concept is evolving from "the back of the house" prescription department driving store sales to growth of the "front of the house" sales. It's no accident a customer finds the prescription department at the rear of a store, as they pass through a myriad of products. "Back of the store" products have dramatically expanded to grocery products, wine and beer, household goods, and other foods. In essence, the stores have become mini-groceries where the customer can one-stop shop in the neighborhood for needed items. However, prices are much higher than a typical grocery retailer (barring a deep discount sale).
For downtown Knoxville, as Mr. Haynes suggests, it is not a return to a classic array of retail stores. But, this does offer a broader selection of products that wouldn't be able to exist otherwise. At this stage of downtown growth, it is unlikely that stand-alone retailers could financially survive offering the array of products found at the drugstores. This is a positive development for downtown and the consumer.
Charles B. Jones Jr.