Excerpts from Ethnography Project: Walgreens
by Catrina Stansel

    Have you ever wondered through a store and just watched the people surrounding you? Ethnography is a great way to gather these observations. Ethnography is a study and description of "daily life", behaviors, and the language of a group of people for a period of time. The site that I chose to do my observations at is Walgreens. The people in Walgreens have many similar traits as they walk through this store. Walgreens is like the University of Illinois' mini grocery store. Many students who do not feel like making the long trip to Meijer, located all the way near Prospect (off campus where all the big stores and mall is located near, and a 40 minute bus ride away), and only have small items to purchase frequently stop into Walgreens to make a purchase. Walgreens has a convenient location near you. Fourth and Green (on campus near Pizza Hut and across from New Life Tattoo), where you only have a short walk to get there, and always seems to have what you need, from lipstick to poster boards. Prices are very affordable, even to poor college students. The people who roam through Walgreens usually have their objectives already drawn out, and tend to try to get in and get out.

     Even with this being the last hours of the store being open, the lines were always at least five customers long or longer at a time. Customers don't seem to stay long in the store, they get what they came for and get out as soon as they possibly can. Most of the purchases I seen being made are candy, chips, and other junk. There was also a lot of typical "dorm food'' (anything that can be microwaved) being purchased, like burritos and canned goods. The cashier seems to move very quickly trying to get the customers in and out and keep the lines as short as possible. She moves very fast with the money, but seems to know exactly what she's doing. As I leave this area and walk through the aisle, the customers don't seem to stay in the store long. Most of the aisles are emply aside from the aisles that include food items. Most of the customers in the store are women and the men who are in the store usually have come with a lady friend. The customers are generally quiet aside from the ones who have come with their friends and are playing around.

Click here to see Catrina's map of the site.

Click here to listen to Kale on the difference between
Chicago and Champaign Walgreens.