COPPELL, Texas — A dental clinic opened last week in a remodeled Carnival store in Plano, Texas. The store, owned by Minyard Food Stores here, also will include a nurse-staffed health clinic.
The All Smiles Dental and Orthodontics clinic is said to be the first of its kind in Texas to be located in a supermarket, and may also be the first nationally. All Smiles, headquartered in Dallas, has 15 freestanding locations in north Texas, and operates two mobile dental clinics.
Carnival stores cater to a Hispanic customer base. MedBasics, Irving, Texas, will open a health clinic in the store later in the spring. MedBasics now has clinics in four Carnival stores.
Minyard is in discussion with All Smiles to open additional dental clinics, said Ron Peters, vice president of pharmacy. “In a way it is a test, because it is a first for us and a first in the market. It is a new concept,” he said.
The remodeled store had its grand opening earlier this month, and “we are already hearing very strong responses to the fact that the dental clinic will be there. So I think it is going to be a success, and I believe we will have the opportunity to have more locations in our company,” Peters said.
When Carnival opens a new store or does a major remodel, it considers what additional features would enhance the store, “and the dental clinics or MedBasics health clinics would definitely be part of that,” he said.
In the Plano store, the dental clinic is part of an array of health offerings that greet shoppers as they enter the store and turn right, as most do, Peters said. The All Smiles dental clinic comes first, followed by the MedBasics health clinic, the health and beauty care section and then the pharmacy.
The dental clinic is about 600 square feet, with three operatories, said Dr. Richard Malouf, president and founder, All Smiles Dental & Orthodontics. “I think this is on the cutting edge of convenience for the consumer. It is long overdue in terms of making a bundle of services available to the patient,” he said.
A store-located dental clinic makes life easier for parents who otherwise would spend an hour or longer waiting for a child. Instead they can be shopping, and can be paged within the store when the clinic is ready for them, he said. The mobile units, which will visit Minyard and Carnival stores, along with schools and other locations, add to this convenience, Malouf said.
“For this type of operation, my plan would be to go nationwide. I want to go into other states and duplicate the same model. I feel like it is a movement toward necessity, given how our time is spent these days,” he said.
Fees vary depending on payment method and insurance, he said. In many cases, examinations are free, and cleanings are about $50.
“This seems like a new, innovative way to expand access to affordable dental care,” said Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director, Convenient Care Association, Philadelphia.
For individuals without insurance, especially Hispanics, pharmacists can be a “point of engagement,” said Jim Wisner, president, Wisner Marketing Group, Libertyville, Ill. “But things like dental care can be very difficult to get ahold of. There is a little more of a comfort zone and accessibility if it is available in a place where you shop. There will be individuals in the store who can communicate with you and tell you how it works,” he said.