A look inside the new Walgreens at North and Damen

(Hilary Higgins/RedEye )
November 20, 2012|By Zara Husaini @zarhus | For RedEye

If you thought the Walgreens on the corner of State and Randolph was impressive, we’ve got news for you: as of Wednesday, it’ll officially be second-best. 

The newest Walgreens is set to open in Wicker Park on Wednesday, and--like the State and Randolph location--it’s a flagship store, which means the size and selection will be much larger than anything you’d see at your average Walgreens.

The new drugstore--at the corner of North and Damen, in the space that used to hold The Noel State Bank--is something of a candy store for adults. Customers can find many of the things you would find at an actual candy store plus much, much more at this 29,589-square-foot store.

Somehow, even with its size, the new Walgreens isn’t an eyesore--it’s actually kind of a beauty.

Architect Dan Garneau left elements of the historical bank in place, choosing to focus on history as well as aesthetics. The original vault is still in place in the store’s basement, but now it’s called “The Vitamin Vault,” a small nook within the store where vitamins are stacked and old safe deposit boxes appear exactly as they did nearly a century ago.   

Old Walgreens artifacts adorn the walls, but the new store is even more modern than it is traditional. It’s also decidedly more high-end than a run-of-the-mill drugstore.  The flagship designation means this Walgreens can stock more luxurious products, from cosmetics to food to health-care products (in need of a new yoga mat? It's there).

It’s also a place Wicker Park residents can go to kill some time--or even grab a good meal or snack. The top floor boasts a brow bar: beauty enthusiasts can visit it for an eyebrow shaping; they can also consult with a beauty adviser for cosmetic recommendations and tips. The ground floor sells assorted coffee drinks, smoothies and juice, fresh-baked goods, sandwiches, sushi and frozen yogurt. 

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