Laurel residents used to have to travel to Clarksville, Columbia, Silver Spring or farther if they wanted to shop at a Walgreens.
Now, they have one right in their own neighborhood.
"We didn't have any Walgreens within 10 miles of here, and we knew this area is a growing area, and we wanted to get into it," said Tory Lane, store manager.
Walgreens opened its Laurel location — 600 Washington Blvd., near Monro Muffler Brake and Service, and Fox Chevrolet of Laurel — Nov. 16, and though a grand-opening celebration isn't planned until Jan. 11, after the holiday rush dies down, Lane said business has been steady.
"It's been great," Lane said. "It's been wonderful so far."
Walgreens Co. operates more than 8,300 stores in all 50 states. The retail drugstore chain offers myriad products and services.
The store hired 25 employees, meaning the entire staff is new except for Lane, an assistant manager and the pharmacist. The new store is also open 24-hours a day, unlike the ones in Columbia, Silver Spring and Clarksville, which makes the Laurel location unique in the area. The closest 24-hour Walgreens, Lane said, is in Glen Burnie.
"This is a 'well-experienced' Walgreens, a larger location that has different features in the pharmacy that you're not going to see in the majority of the Walgreens," Lane said. Some of those features are still in the works, but others, like the express pharmacy checkout, are up and running.
Basically, the Laurel location is a bigger store with a lot more options, Lane said.
"If we don't have the item that they need, I personally guarantee that I will get it for them, if it's a Walgreens product that, for whatever reason, I don't have," Lane said. "I will drive to whatever Walgreens in the area that has it to get it for them. We are very customer-service focused."
Lane consistently tells his employees that the number-one priority is customer service.
"If we don't take care of them, there's a lot of other places that they can go," he said.
For example, there are two CVS Pharmacy locations within a half-mile of the new Walgreens.
"(People) come here because they know they're going to get a clean atmosphere with good customer service," Lane said. "We are here to please, so if anything is not up to their satisfaction, their expectations, I definitely want them to make me aware of it."
Late Monday afternoon, the store had a handful of customers picking up prescriptions and shopping for Christmas presents and cards. Many said they were happy the new Walgreens had opened, and some were planning on transferring prescriptions from other pharmacies to the Walgreens.
Marilyn Walters, of Laurel, was at the store for the first time with her granddaughter, and said she hadn't even seen the rest of the store yet — they had gotten waylaid in the card section near the store's entrance.
"So far, as far as I've gotten, it looks nice," Walters said. "I wouldn't go to Columbia or Clarksville before, so this is nice to have this here."