MINNEAPOLIS-CVS Corp. is entering the Twin Cities market this month by opening new 13,000-sf stores in Eagan and Coon Rapids, with plans for up to eight more by year-end. The new stores feature a revamped format for the Woonsocket, RI-based retail drug store chain.

The new CVS store format features lower shelves, wide aisles, carpeted areas and color-coded signage to improve ease and accessibility of shopping. The store also includes a wide-open, curved center aisle that leads shoppers back to the store’s pharmacy, its main business. The changes were made after extensive research with its consumers, who are mostly women. CVS’ new store format also has been introduced in New York and southern California, and it will serve as the design for all new and remodeled stores.

CVS stores are being built in Andover, Blaine, Maple Grove, Mounds View, Plymouth, White Bear Lake, northeast Minneapolis and St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood. Construction should begin on a Chanhassen location in the next month, and up to six more CVS stores could break ground by next spring, according to officials at Bloomington-based United Properties, who is helping the retailer with its Twin Cities expansion.

CVS hopes it can differentiate itself from competitors such as Walgreens, with nearly 80 stores in the Twin Cities, and Minnetonka-based Snyders with more than 50 Minnesota locations. Besides its Eagan and Coon Rapids stores that opened earlier this month, CVS plans to open another eight locations by the end of the year. Within the next five years, CVS anticipates opening 40 to 50 stores in the Twin Cities area, according to company officials. Walgreens officials have said they expect to open about 16 more stores over the next two years in the Twin Cities.

CVS has 5,400 stores in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Walgreens has about 4,600 stores.

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