The drugstore chain continues to challenge Walgreens, with plans to add seven stores in 2011. But Walgreens also is expanding.
CVS, the nation's No. 2 drugstore chain, confirmed Friday that it plans to open seven more stores this year in Minnesota as it duels with industry-leader Walgreens for prescription and shampoo dollars.
One of the most visible drugstore battles will be in Edina, where a new CVS is going in next to the Walgreens near Southdale.
"We do see a lot of opportunity in Minnesota," said Mike DeAngelis, spokesman for CVS Caremark Corp.
CVS, which entered the Minnesota market in the mid-2000s, turned to Velmeir Cos. of West Bloomfield, Mich., to find sites at convenient street corners.
"We're playing catch-up," said Jim Offerman, Velmeir's vice president of real estate in Minnesota. "Good corners are good corners whether the economy's good or bad."
A 2010 ranking of pharmacy sales, as opposed to total corporate sales, by Drug Store News put Walgreens at No. 1, followed by CVS Caremark, Rite Aid and Wal-Mart. Analysts say the convenience of drugstores is a key reason Wal-Mart doesn't dominate pharmacy sales.
The first of the new CVS stores is scheduled to open this month in Dilworth, Minn., near Moorhead, followed by two in Mankato next month.
New metro-area stores include one at Excelsior Boulevard and Grand Way in St. Louis Park scheduled to open this spring. Two more will open in the fall -- a store in a former Holiday station at Lyndale Avenue S. and W. 90th Street in Bloomington and one at York Avenue S. and W. 69th Street in Edina. A store in New Hope is to open by the end of the year.
CVS has signed a lease for a store at 6528 Penn Av. S. in Richfield but doesn't plan to open there until 2012. The company wouldn't discuss its other 2012 plans.
With 42 existing stores and the seven new ones in Minnesota, CVS still lags rival Walgreen Co., which has 139 stores.
Walgreens said it plans to open five to seven new stores in Minnesota this year, but identified only four locations: Sauk Rapids, Monticello, Minnetonka and St. Paul's Highland Park.
The new CVS stores in Minnesota will range from 12,000 square feet to 14,700 square feet, and most will have drive-through pharmacy pickup windows. CVS stores tend to be somewhat smaller than Walgreens stores, DeAngelis said, and focus more on health care products. Both chains lease their stores.
Walgreens, based in Deerfield, Ill., and CVS, based in Woonsocket, R.I., have been locked in battle for two decades, and it's not unusual to see the competitors in the same neighborhood.
The side-by-side stores in Edina raised some eyebrows, said city planner Cary Teague. But 37 percent of Edina's households have at least one resident 65 or older, he said.
"Given our senior population, two drugstores next to each other may be able to sustain themselves," he said.
Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683