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There are places in our lives that travel with us. I don’t mean memories of, say, that family vacation in Oahu or your best friend’s bachelorette party in Cancun (especially since you probably don’t remember much of that one anyway). These are everyday locations, like the bank or the grocery store—so ubiquitous that we often don’t have to change them when we move across the country. They’re little bits of the familiar that make it easier to settle someplace new, but they’re also such mundane parts of everyday life that we don’t realize how much we rely on them until they’re gone.
For me, that place is CVS Pharmacy. It was the only drugstore in the small Michigan town where I grew up, so I went there by necessity for everything from toothpaste to birthday cards. My reliance continued as I moved to Maryland for college and later took a summer internship in Los Angeles. For a shop that could have been sterile and distant, it was downright cozy, with soft carpeting, signs that explained wonky health jargon, and, eventually, shelves filled with six-packs of craft beer. CVS was where I bought my first mascara wand, the Solo cups for the first party I threw with my college roommates, and the test that told me the gut-twisting panic during my first pregnancy scare was unwarranted.
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Of course, I wasn’t aware of my dependence on CVS until I moved to Colorado to take a job at this magazine. Within a matter of weeks, I discovered not only was there not a CVS near my Capitol Hill apartment, there also wasn’t one in the entire Centennial State. I was relegated to Walgreens, where I found that I could never rack up enough in-store points to get rewards, and nothing was where I intuitively expected it to be. The floors are scuffed linoleum. I grieved for way longer than was socially acceptable.
So when I heard that CVS was coming to certain Colorado Targets last year, I was ecstatic. Finally, I’d be able to frequent my beloved pharmacy again! Turns out, though, that I won’t do anything to go there. The closest Target was more than half an hour away (down Colorado Boulevard, no less), and enduring that drive just to pick up paper towel and some Gatorade seemed a bit foolish.
But then, on the last day of May, CVS finally opened a brick-and-mortar store in Parker. I drove all the way down for the grand opening, where everyone was bedecked in red, and the mayor used giant scissors to cut the ceremonial ribbon. It was a lot of pomp and circumstance, but I’m sure they were excited; after all, CVS has been around since 1963, and Colorado was one of the few states where it hadn’t had locations. I learned that there were legitimate reasons for me to take my business to CVS. It was the first national pharmacy in the country to stop selling tobacco, in 2014, and no longer carries sunscreen with an SPF lower than 15. By the end of 2019, the company plans to remove formaldehyde and parabens from all of its store-brand beauty products. According to CVS regional manager Maureen Cormier: “Our purpose is to help people have healthier lives.”
Cormier skirted my question about why CVS hadn’t been in Colorado with a vague comment about how much effort the company puts into researching new markets (my guess is that Walgreens’ saturation of the space had something to do with it), but it looks like the barrier to entry has dropped now; two other CVS locations, in Denver and Littleton, are set to open later this summer. But I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to check out the first. As I walked through the sliding doors, my flats stopped clattering. There was carpet.