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The New Walgreens Is Not All That, But It's Also Not Unwelcome

Image via <a href="">Shawmut_Builds</a>/Twitter
Image via Shawmut_Builds/Twitter

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To note that the newly opened mega-Walgreens is controversial would be an understatement, as it sits at the intersection of various concerns and motives for the redevelopment of Downtown Crossing. High-rise dwellers herald the fact that they now have a grocery option, while critics lament that the store lies among numerous other drugstore chains. Others, like Paul McMorrow at the Boston Globe, simply remind us that we're getting excited over a tricked out pharmacy, and you know, we should set our standards a bit higher. Which is exactly why we would love to see a destination retailer set up shop in that neighborhood—say, Uniqlo.

Assertions aside, we decided to take a gander at the store and see what the hubbub is all about firsthand. Unfortunately, there is not much to report back on. Of course, we are looking at it from a beauty perspective and not from the viewpoint of a food source, which likely does serve the needs of some residents and business folks. All in all, the beauty-counter layout of the store's "Look Boutique" doesn't measure up to the counters down the block at Macy's, even if the salespeople are engaging and helpful.

We were excited to see Nuxe, the prestige French line known for its honey-based Rêve de Miel lip balm and cherished dry oil. Various nail polish brands abound, including Pop Beauty, a slew of Essie, and some OPI anchoring the more typical drugstore labels like Sally Hansen and L'Oreal. It's worth mentioning the on-site nail salon too, which was humming with lunchtime customers, and is reasonably priced at $12 for a manicure.

Further falling in line with its attempted department-store feel, the Look Boutique has booths for British mainstay skincare brand Boots No. 7, Cargo cosmetics, and The Balm. While a good selection is offered within each brand, it didn't quite measure up with a wide variety of brands (or ones you might otherwise find at Sephora). The general cosmetics section is reminiscent of a typical Target, but nothing more impressive.

A kiosk-type machine allows shoppers to purchase deluxe sample sizes of different products—think John Frieda shampoo—for $1, which is kind of interesting but we wouldn't be compelled to pay for a sample, especially when competitors often offer it as a complimentary add-on. In regard to hair products, CVS certainly has a better selection of prestige lines...and again, with more than one additional CVS in the vicinity, what distinguishes Walgreens? Nothing about the store's personal care corner is exclusive, but it's not unnecessary either. If we lived in the area, we'd probably shop there on the regular for basics from Neutrogena and the like.

Have you checked out the beauty department at Walgreens? What do you like? What would you rather see there? Sound off in the comments.
· Walgreens in Downtown Crossing a sign of low ambition [Boston Globe]
· Walgreens Flagship to Open This Spring in DTX [Racked Boston]