CWH a ‘grim casino of self-improvement’


A Kiwi journalist has reviewed Chemist Warehouse, which is still a new entrant to the New Zealand market – and described it as “pure hell”

But Alex Casey also writes that she loves the newcomer, outlining her “destructive obsession” in a humorous piece about the chain’s discounting, vitamin and beauty range and customer service.

Chemist Warehouse still only has a handful of stores across the Tasman, with plans for more; it entered the market by offering free prescriptions, a gambit that its competitors nearby are increasingly finding themselves compelled to copy.

“The St Luke’s branch of the Australian discount chain celebrated its opening last year with a bright yellow hot air balloon tied to the roof, suggesting it had either crashed down from the heavens or ascended from the bowels of hell,” Ms Casey writes in The Spinoff.

“The interior is overwhelming and technicolour, plastered with DISCOUNT PRICE flyers and FREE BLISTER PACKS with any purchase. Free!?! What even is a blister pack?! I’ll take 10.

“Aside from the bargain pricing, the big drawcard is the free prescriptions. Great news for the glassy-eyed customers, bad news for all the local family-run pharmacies.

“But it’s not the even free prescriptions that lure me in. It’s everything else. Chemist Warehouse is the grim casino of self-improvement, roping in the vulnerable through rotating jackpot skin cream deals, crow’s feet negging and the eternal promise of a better tomorrow.

“And, of course, the blister packs.”

Ms Casey described the vitamins aisle as a “gaping void,” with a “little chalky brown pill to fix every single ounce of your existence”.

“I need it all,” she says, before moving onto the skin care section and discussing the relative merits of breast enhancer creams and a “Tummy Tuck” cream.

“I made it to the counter after an hour. I hadn’t meant to spend any money, yet somehow my basket was full.

“Snapping briefly out out of my trance, I dutifully returned the ostentatious gold glasses chain to its place on the shelf. How did that get in there?! This is why you need a game plan, you need a budget and you definitely need a chaperone to tell you that you are being irrational when you buy 500 bottles of FemFresh because you’ve suddenly been given reason to doubt thousands of years of human evolution.”

Read the full review here.

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