Meet The TeamIn an effort to build even stronger relationships with our supplier partners, we want to take the opportunity in each edition of @Rite Aid to introduce you to a member of our Category Management team. In this issue, meet our newest Category Manager, Chelsea Wildman.
Rite Aid’s Newest Category Manager Seeks Synergy, Innovation
Chelsea Wildman grew up loving fashion and knew she wanted to be a buyer by the time she attended Ohio University. Always determined, knowing what she wanted, Chelsea majored in Retail Merchandising and minored in Business. “Although we are Category Managers, the buying only represents a small percentage of the overall job functions. There are many other facets to the job and daily challenges that we face.“
Chelsea, right, in her softball playing days of the early 1990s. Ironically, a local Rite Aid store in Marietta, Ohio sponsored her team.
That has never deterred Chelsea from excelling. She spent six years in the department store business and never shied from advancement opportunities. “Whenever there was a job opening, I always applied,” she says.
Rite Aid named Chelsea as its Associate Category Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2010. In 2010, she helped Rite Aid successfully navigate recall-driven turbulence and posted strong sales in the OTC category. “She never missed a deadline in a very difficult year,” said Executive Vice President of Merchandising Tony Montini. “She’s a team player who approaches every day with a positive attitude.”
Chelsea now oversees a range of categories that tap into both her love of fashion and her experience with health and personal care. In February, Rite Aid promoted her to Category Manager of apparel, eye care, hosiery, jewelry, watches, umbrellas, sunglasses, optical reading glasses, shoes and Zon Fitness. In July, Rite Aid gave her the additional responsibilities of skin care, sun care and bath, transitioning hosiery, shoes, jewelry, watches and umbrellas to her fellow category managers.
“It’s exciting because there are a lot of opportunities to find cross merchandising and synergies among all of these categories,” Chelsea says. “This new category alignment creates many exciting opportunities to drive top line sales.”
Chelsea sees potential in creating a one-stop shop for eye care, reading glasses and sunglasses “all centrally located so the customer can feel like they’re in a boutique setting.” Or combining sunglasses, swim wear and sun care into a one-stop shop for pool-goers or customers heading to the beach. With apparel and accessories, Chelsea sees an opportunity to deliver hipper fashions that aren’t typically associated with the drugstore model.
She says strong supplier relationships are essential to delivering a superior shopping experience to customers. “Teamwork and communication are very important,” Chelsea says. “I know a lot of the vendors from working in healthcare and we have strong working relationships.” Chelsea encourages her supplier partners to seek innovative approaches to the drugstore business. “We’re looking for creative ideas that will set us apart from other drugstores, especially with our new Wellness store format,” she says. “It’s a huge opportunity for us.”
When she’s away from the office, Chelsea enjoys softball, dance and yoga. She recently completed a rigorous 9-month program to become a certified yoga instructor, training one weekend each month before passing the 10-hour final exam. “This was a huge accomplishment,” she says. “Now I can share my love for yoga with others.”