Walgreens prepares old Elephant space before opening

Three and a half months after Berkeleyside broke the news that Walgreens was to take over the old Elephant Pharmacy space at 1607 Shattuck Avenue, the giant retail chain has started construction work on the building ahead of opening.

On hearing of the move in October, many Berkeleysiders were dismayed with the idea of Walgreens moving in. Reader C.J. Higley wrote something of a eulogy to the building’s previous occupant:

“Dear Elephant: Please forgive me for all the times I made fun of you during your brief, earnest life here in Berkeley. I hope you know my teasing was all in good fun! I never realized just how much I’d miss you. I loved your $1 offbeat indie DVDs and your reasonably priced Strauss Family Farms dairy products. Maybe I didn’t need your Super Blue-Green Algae, but someone did… probably. I still wear the hemp hat you sold me all the time! You were [almost] the Berkeley General Store we sorely needed. R.I.P Elephant. Your candle burned out long before your legend ever will.”

Others commented that they were relieved the empty space would once again be occupied. Reader Ode wrote: “I hope that Walgreens will be sensitive to the neighborhood, revive some of the very good things that Elephant Pharm represented, and thrive.”

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  • Farmer Zeke

    More conglomerate stores in Berkeley? …sigh :-(

  • bs

    Elephant was great. I’m sad to see it replaced by a chain, and as drugstore companies goes Walgreens is the worst of the lot. Of course before Elephant it was a Copelands so what difference.

    Any bets on whether Walgreens folds up their 2187 Shattuck store once this location comes online? What about the CVS where Bill’s Drugs used to be? My guess that within a year one of them bites it.

  • Todd

    hmmm…Does Berkeley really need another one of these?

  • Name Withheld

    Functioning store > Empty building

    And I bet Walgreens can keep both this and their 2187 Shattuck location open and profit off of both of them. Most people who visit the Walgreens on Shattuck are high school kids, people who drop in as they’re leaving/entering BART, people who live in one of the buildings in the area, and and Cal students who wander off campus.

    As long as Walgreens focuses on making this more of an “upscale” store than their 2187 Shattuck location they should be able to pull in Gourmet Ghetto shoppers and not cannibalize sales from their other nearby store.

  • DC

    It’s a bit too close to Longs, but I’d still rather have it be occupied than not.

  • Eric Panzer

    Seeing as how Long’s is longs gone and CVS is another chain, I’m more pleased than worried by the ensuing competition. Though I liked Elephant Pharmacy for a lot of things, I was always dismayed by their promotion of scams like homeopathy. In similar fashion, though I am glad this building will be occupied, it’s disappointing that it’s another chain and that there was no effort build something better on this site–a pipe dream, I know. I’m going to call this one a wash.

  • DC

    Yeah, I was hoping the LL would divide the shell into sub-Tenant spaces, as those could have been filled far more readily and with a greater variety of Tenants. But that’s probably a zoning nightmare in Berkeley. Plus it would have been far more expensive for the sub-Tenants to develop (each would need sprinklers, toilets, fire alarm, etc – multiple infrastructure & utility installs).

  • Jules

    Elephant represented the useless New Age placebo-peddling nonsense that convinces people they need magic supplement pills. Good riddance! Glad to see Walgreen’s here, even though I know some people have an intense knee-jerk reaction to anything that’s a chain.

  • MK

    I personally can’t wait for the buzzing fluorescent lights, muzak, and aisles of snail poison, plastic junk, and hallmark cards. Joy. Oh wait, that was Longs down the street. Seriously, the people who managed the Elephant chain simply blew it, with their ovrextended expansion. They had the perfect North Berkeley recipe, and fine tuned it over time. If the Berkeley store wasn’t making money hand over fist, then there was serious mismanagement because that place was packed day and night. We’ve got some free space on Solano now that could use exactly that formula.

  • Anelisajb

    While I’m sorry Elephant is gone, Walgreens always has what I need when CVS doesn’t (miss the days when it was “Bill’s”) and this Walgreens will be closer and easier than the others in town. Plus, it’s nice not to see a lot of vacant retail space. That’s just sad.