During the last two Architectural Review Board meetings for the city, members reviewed an application for a new CVS pharmacy which would sit just blocks away from two other pharmacies, one being the CVS in the Williamsburg Shopping Center.
There are currently four CVS pharmacies that serve the Historic Triangle. CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis wouldn’t confirm the company’s plans to build in the area until a contract is signed. He did say that the company’s current plans include moving older stores out of strip malls – like the one in Williamsburg Shopping Center – and into free-standing buildings with more parking, more visibility and drive-through capability.
Williamsburg isn’t the only locality in the Triangle seeing applications for new pharmacies. In James City County, there are three applications in various stages in the county; one of these is also for a CVS. The other applications are for a Rite Aid and a Walgreens. In Williamsburg, there’s also been a proposal for a Walgreens on Jamestown Road. A CVS will be opening in Yorktown in October. And that’s just to name a few.
Why the glut of pharmacy building now, especially during a recession?
According to DeAngelis, the Williamsburg area is a good target for his company because “as the population ages, their prescription drug use increases.” About one quarter of Williamsburg’s population is made up of retirees.
Often big-name pharmacies are looking for the same target demographic (like seniors who need prescriptions) and the same placement within a town, so often you see competing stores all collected around one major intersection, often just across the street from one another, says DeAngelis.
The Williamsburg CVS application that the ARB has been discussing, which would be at the intersection of Ironbound and Richmond roads, is just a few blocks from a Walgreens, and a few blocks away from another CVS at the Williamsburg Shopping Center, which would likely be closed if the new location opens.
DeAngelis says the company is somewhat “recession-resistant” because “people want one stop for all their essentials, a place where things are inexpensive and convenient.”
It’s a philosophy that Walmart and Target have already figured out.
In the first quarter of this year, retail sales at CVS increased almost 14 percent over last year, says DeAngelis, and the company is looking to increase its presence in the Hampton Roads area.