New locations pull Apria further into world of cash sales

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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

BRAINERD, Tenn. - The promise of heavy foot traffic and exposure lured Apria further into the world of big-box retail with the opening of two additional locations in Wal-Mart Supercenters.

Apria in May opened stores in Albuquerque, N.M., and Brainerd, Tenn. Apria’s initial Wal-Mart stores are found in Duncanville, Texas, near Dallas, and Phoenix, Ariz. They opened in March and April, respectively.
“The retail product sales segment of healthcare is expected to grow faster than almost any other segment of healthcare in the next 10 years,” said Lisa Getson, Apria’s executive vice president of business development. “Apria is simply conducting these pilots to determine whether indeed that can be a successful model for generating additional HME sales and for making it easier for patients in outlying areas to be serviced by the company.”

The locations all serve as pilot locations in the provider’s retail experiment. The company will examine earnings and sales results from each location after 90 to 120 days, said Getson. Apria is confident in the trial, due in part to Wal-Mart’s promotional power and visibility in the community. The world’s largest retailer boasts 138 million customers per week worldwide.

“What we like about this is that Wal-Mart is drawing customers through its own promotional campaign, whereas a freestanding outlet on a corner would be harder for customers to find and more costly to operate,” said Getson.

More than 7,000 customers visited the Duncanville Apria the first Sunday it was open, she added.

“I think Apria is a very good fit with Wal-Mart with the amount of services and products that they cover for their patients and their breadth and reach across the United States,” said Kim Myers, who helped launch Apria’s Wal-Mart locations.

The initial Wal-Mart locations are currently driven by cash sales and are home to a medley of medical equipment and supplies, including scooters, lifts and wheelchairs. Nearby Apria branch offices aid in inventory and services not provided at Wal-Mart locations.
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