By  on January 21, 1994

NEW YORK -- Many retailers talk about tailoring their stores to individual markets, but Woolworth Corp. is actually doing it.

Working through its Rx Place subsidiary and acting on the concept that urban and suburban markets are different, Woolworth's has created two distinct formats: The Rx Place and The Rx Place Drug Marts.

The Rx Place, founded in the mid-Eighties, is a chain of 25 deep discount drugstores developed for suburban sites, where units of 25,000 square feet and larger can be built.

For urban markets, the company has created the Drug Marts, a pared-down format with more compact stores, each measuring 6,000 to 10,000 square feet.

While utilizing smaller spaces to fit into urban confines, the Drug Marts also stock different merchandise to cater to the city crowd. The stores sell to more ethnically diverse consumers than the Rx Place units, as well as to more men, according to the company.

The Rx Place currently operates in five states: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

According to Joe Dickerson, vice president and general manager for The Rx Place, "We're looking forward to becoming a principal player in the New England-Atlantic region with both our deep discount and discount convenience drugstores."

The first Drug Mart was opened last May in Jersey City, N.J., in what had been a Woolworth store.

Woolworth has identified the discount drugstore format as a more lucrative growth opportunity than its own general merchandise stores. The company has closed 35 of its general stores in Manhattan, with 400 more units across the country scheduled to close this year.

To date, three closed Woolworths in New York as well as the one in Jersey City have been converted into Rx Place Drug Marts. In March, nine new Drug Marts will open simultaneously throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Beauty takes center stage in both Rx Place formats and is set to become even more important as the chain embarks on a torrid growth pace, according to Gina Russo, cosmetics and fragrance buyer.

"Cosmetics and fragrances account for between 7 percent and 10 percent of sales," she said. "We'd like to get it higher in both formats. Our goal is 15 percent."

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