California Rx Card Media Center

Save Mart promises fast, affordable Rx

The 59-year-old Save Mart supermarket chain more than doubled its store count in 2007 with the purchase of 132 Albertsons stores, but entered something of a dormant period since then. Save Mart now operates 241 stores in California and Nevada, down from a peak of 255 in 2009, and 114 in-store pharmacies, down from 115 in 2009.

But despite the recession-induced lull in growth, it continues to launch innovative new programs, such as the "19-minute promise." The unique program gives customers who have to wait longer than 19 minutes for a prescription to be filled a free "dinner and a movie" in the form a $10 gift card for a food purchase and a free movie coupon for DVD rentals at its Redbox kiosks.

Save Mart said the offer is designed to show that its pharmacies "are faster than some of our competition" and can have a prescription filled in the time it takes for a customer to drop off their prescription, do their shopping and return to pick it up.

"It's another program that creates more value for our customers and lets them know we care about customer service," said Robert Vaughan, Save Mart's senior director of pharmacy operations. "We know our customers' time is valuable, and we stand behind that commitment." Before launching the program, all Save Mart stores were integrated on a common software platform, and some higher-volume stores implemented robotic filling systems.

For cost-conscious shoppers, Save Mart has its own Top Care private-label brand of over-the-counter products at prices lower than most name brands. Pharmacies also accept prescription assistance program cards, including the Nevada Drug Card and the California Rx card, which provide discounts to customers during hard economic times. And Save Mart publishes a free quarterly magazine called In Good Health that offers customers helpful hints on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.