Drug Emporium on Bertrand Drive near Rouses is getting a face lift and some extra space — a lot of extra space.

The drugstore and natural foods store is taking over the building that housed its former neighbor, Acadiana Office Products, and gaining around 22,000 square feet. “Mainly, we are expanding our Vitamins Plus department,” says Assistant Manager Mandy Aucoin.

By March, the new space will have a larger selection of health and natural food products, more brands, a larger produce and freezer items selection and bulk food bins.

Drug Emporium's expansion is a proactive approach to the fierce competition it will face next fall when Whole Foods enters the market on Ambassador Caffery Parkway at Settlers Trace. The discount drug store hopes the expansion will boost business and keep shoppers in the aisles long after Whole Foods opens.

In addition to the Vitamins Plus expansion, the pharmacy will increase in size and the Drug Emporium aisles will add more household items and a dollar-priced items zone.

Construction to the front of the building is slated for completion in December.

Drug Emporium is the name of the former Ohio-based discount drug store corporation founded in 1977; it declared bankruptcy in April 2001, having sold off stores to several different buyers from 2000 to 2001. Some locations, like Lafayette, have continued to use the Drug Emporium name.

The Lafayette store is part of a family-owned business out of Longview, Texas, that operates 10 stores in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

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