"SAY NO TO DRUGS" Store Chains

By
Real Estate Agent with Compass

"Don't it always seem to go that you dont know what you've got til it's gone....

They paved Paradise and they put up a Duane Reade WalgreensW 87th & Broadway

 (Joni Mitchell -Big Yellow Taxi - 1970)

The other night I called The Malaysia Grill a restaurant at my corner for dinner they told me they were closing. This morning I went to my local Korean produce grocery store right next to The Malaysia Grill where I have been going for at least the past 10 years and the place was gutted.

The Korean family that owns the place were packing up. I asked what happened even though I knew. I knew it was a only a matter of time before the whole block would be rented to a big chain and all the little stores would be gone. The landlord had been advertising the corner, block and storefronts for a while. It's the trend. One big tenant is better than ten smaller ones.

My only thought was PLease NO MORE Duane Reade Drugstores

Ok I will go next store to "Hot & Crusty" thank God they are still there, I need my bagels and coffee and cookies and the best pizza in NYC.

Oh No!  Not them too. They will be moving too but at least they are not going out of business and they will just be a few more steps up the street. They are a chain too so I guess they were able to negotiate a deal for another storefront.

Guess what's coming?  A Walgreens - Yipee! a national Duane Reade chain. Just what the neighborhood needs and wants 7,000 more square feet of Shampoo, toothpaste, Mr Clean, Bounty, Charmin and Advil. I just don't get it. I get why Walgreens wants us - but we don't want them.

I remember Walgreens as a kid. We had them and Woolworths and 5 and dime stores. I thought they went out of business in the 70's because that was when they left New York. Now they want back at any cost.

Drugstore Chains

We no longer have drug dealers on the streets now we have drug store chains on every street.

I buy paper towels and windex and aspirin even need prescriptions sometimes just like the next person - Every neigborhood should have a drug store. But how many stores selling the same junk does a neighborhood need or can tolerate? Does every block need one? Do we need new zoning laws restricting the number of mega drugstore chains?

IMHO the bigger these stores are the worse they are. I can never find anything, I run in for something, can't find it, end up wandering through an obstacle course of aisles and always end up having to go elsewhere. They are not very crowded until you get to the cashier and then you can grow old waiting on line. Buying a pack of gum should not be a stressful ordeal.

The strategy for these stores particularly the dominant local chain Duane Reade is "in -your -face" planned cannibalization - be at every corner take up every block because they believe New Yorkers will not cross the street for toothpaste. So everyone should have a mega drugstore 5 steps from where they live.

They are wrong I have two Duane Reades on one side of the street, a CVS a block long and I still cross the street for Price Wise.

Price Wise has everything the chains have including much better prices on everything and friendly helpful curteous employess. There are already two of them in the neighbrorhood.

I might not walk a mile for a Camel but I sure will cross the street for a better store.

Everything is always about real estate in NYC. Because of drugstore chain competition they have driven rents up 20% - 50% more than their value.

They all want the Manhattan market and are willing to pay more for the space than it's worth. They force out great restaurants, and bagel shops, produce and flower markets all the things that New Yorkers love that make a neighborhood great.

Many Manhattanites live in coops, they can choose their neighbors, should they be able to choose the retail flavor of their communities too? Drugstore-covered streets are not popular with many New Yorkers. 

In a celebrated case, residents of Manhattan's Upper West Side protested what they deemed one drugstore too many. Some 4,400 people signed a petition to boycott a CVS that replaced a supermarket on 102nd Street and Broadway and brought to five the number of drugstores within four blocks. The store opened in the summer of 2000 and closed within 18 months. 

The only competition the drugstore chains seem to have for bidding on retail space is the banks. The banks are back - small ones like Wachovia, Independence, Atlantic, that are new to the market, want to position themselves and are paying more rent. Landlords and residents like them because they're clean, they build great-looking units, they have no glaring signs, no deliveries at midnight. And everyone likes to live above money.

Drugstore chains don't really hurt a neighborhood but they add nothing to it. They are big and ugly. Eventually many of these stores will close, I've seen over expansion before. I lived here in the 80's and 90's too. Back then at least there were interesting trendy innovative places that would come and go. 

Whether New Yorkers will actually go to Duane Reade or Walgreens for their skin-care and teeth-whitening needs remains to be seen. But what Duane Reade does in its stores is beside the point. In the end, it really just comes down to real estate, and the hot commercial market may be a boon to the drug chain.

With banks and national drugstore chains bidding up prime spaces by 50 percent or more, Duane Reade's below market leases have become the jewel of the company. Their philosophy is to brand the block, keep out other merchants, making money doesn't matter. Duane Reade, doesn't really have to sell another toothbrush. If the drugstore business were to collapse today, they'd probably have one of the more successful real-estate businesses subleasing their stores.

Walgreens and CVS and the others will not be as lucky. They will need to sell a lot of tootpaste to pay the high above market rent that enabled them to kick out 5 or 6 thriving neighborhood restaurants and local businesses just so they can have a presence in Manhattan. But do Manhattanites want their presence?

They paved Paradise and they put up a Walgreens with flouresent lights, a pharmacy and a swinging food spot...Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone... They paved Paradise and they put up a Duane Reade Walgreens.

 

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Ambassador
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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

What a waste.  Variety replaced by conformity.  Style replaced by vogue.  Ethnicity replaced by the bland. 

Good food replaced by more drug based retailers who fill the perscriptions of the pathetic public who believe that they will be happy if they just take this or that pill.  Good grief, we've got a population walking around in a daze because they have been persuaded that they need 7 pills daily to be happy and health.  They are hung over and exceeding unhealthy.

Sorry about your neighborhood.  It's happening all over.

Lenn

Jul 03, 2007 03:46 AM #6
Rainer
267,674
Ginger Sala
Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC - Wilmington, NC
Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~

Mitchell, This makes me so sad. The character of the Big Apple neighborhoods was what made it great. As a long time resident of Yorkville, I saw this trend emerge in the late 80's.. 86th St, a mecca of ethnic restaurants and shops, was slowly becoming "chainerized" . I am sure it' pretty plastic looking now. We loved to go into the Ideal a tiny little two story restaurant for home made fixings... That must be gone by now. Sad.

Why Cant't or won't he city council put a quota on how many drugstores alowed in a square mile radius?

Ginger

Jul 03, 2007 05:33 AM #7
Rainmaker
597,761
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Lenn, conformity and bland that is exactly it. I will have to regroup and find new places to eat

Ginger,  I remember back then all fast food and electronics stores kept opening, most of them are gone. Now there is a big Rite Aid at 86th and Lex and another one at 84th and Lex and I think even another one on 3rd Avenue, 86th St has Staples, Best Buy looks like a Mall when you get off the subway at 86th St.

I remember the German restaurants in Yorkville. EIK candy just closed last year. I remember eating at Ideal they had the best vener schnitzel, I'm not sure if it is still there. It is sad I know the people of Yorkville and even Carnegie Hill have tried to stop some of it.

To many of these big chains NYC is like the final frontier. 

Jul 03, 2007 07:08 AM #8
Rainmaker
597,761
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
The one chain that residents on the upper west side and upper east side want in our neighborhood is Whole Foods but they won't pay the high rents.
Jul 03, 2007 07:37 AM #9
Rainer
267,674
Ginger Sala
Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC - Wilmington, NC
Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~

Mitchell, All I can say is it's a cryin' shame. I was back in NYC 2 years ago.  Did not get a chance to walk 86th st. I guess I did notmiss much.. I loved the Ideal's meatloaf and potato pancakes...What about the Heidleberg.. they had all those beautiful cakes in the window.. We would pass after taking in late movie at 86th and Lex , or 85th and Madison and  salivate ! LOL!

Ginger

Jul 03, 2007 07:53 AM #10
Rainmaker
597,761
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
Ginger, You will be happy to know Heidleberg is still there and the movie theatre too. 86th & Madison and up to 5th hasn't changed too much. Next time you're in town call me and I'll take you to Heidleberg if it's still there. 
Jul 03, 2007 08:05 AM #11
Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO

It's funny, Lakewood Ohio is known for the sustainability of it's business district; two long streets of every type of store imagineable; service industry, Vietnamese food and every other kind of food you can imagine. Lo and behold, one of the main intersections just became a chain drug store. How quaint is that? It's hard to stop private development but zoning could certainly help.  I agree they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.  

Instead of keeping the personal touches of local small businesses we get chains; then in the suburbs we get planned communities that are supposed to look like our old cities, big or small!  Go figure! 

Ok I'm done :-)

Jul 03, 2007 04:07 PM #12
Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
Btw, what is a swinging food spot?
Jul 03, 2007 04:07 PM #13
Rainer
111,655
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
AR will NOT let me edit a comment! Ok here is the version of the song you probably want :-)
Jul 03, 2007 04:18 PM #14
Rainmaker
597,761
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Carole thanks for that great video clip, I love that song never heard that version... funny I rather have a parking lot than a Wallgreens we need parking not cheap shampoo. lol

Swinging food spot, I was trying to rhyme with swinging hot spot from the song. lol, ...

These big drug chains are opening in part is because supermarkets are closing and they are trying to become convenience food stores as well by replacing supermarkets.... hence "swinging food spot" lol

Jul 03, 2007 04:39 PM #15
Rainmaker
597,761
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
Carole, I love the Joni Mitchell version, those are her paintings? How do you get sound on a blog? I would love to have her song Chelsea morning on my Chelsea blog.
Jul 03, 2007 04:43 PM #16
Rainer
188,704
Laurie Manny
Long Beach CA Real Estate - Long Beach, CA

Mitchell,

You get the embed code from You Tube from this page:

http://youtube.com/results?search_query=chelsea+morning&search=

Pick the version you like best, I like this one for you:  http://youtube.com/watch?v=P-riqJPi1lw

Open the video, if you like it, cut the embed code, just to the left of the video and then paste it into a post on your blog in html mode.

The embed code for this version is:

<object width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/P-riqJPi1lw"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/P-riqJPi1lw" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"></embed></object>

When posting a youtube video onto AR you just put the whole code in.  Every blog is different.  On mine I have to remove a small piece of the code, the first group:   <object width="425" height="350">

Once that is removed it works great.   

It is really quite simple, just remember to switch to html mode then save into draft before switching back to modify.   

 

what the heck is an arkurbal? 

Jul 03, 2007 07:23 PM #17
Rainer
188,704
Laurie Manny
Long Beach CA Real Estate - Long Beach, CA
OK, the system won't let me edit my comment.  The embed code is actually to the right of the video you know, the other left.
Jul 03, 2007 07:25 PM #18
Rainmaker
597,761
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Laurie,

Thank you. I had no idea you can take content off you tube. I'm paranoid about copyright material but I guess on you tube it is OK to share.

I just added a fabulous 10 minute walking tour of Harlem set to Duke Ellington take the A train to Harlem on my Harlem blog

I added a music video to Chelsea too. I'd love to put my Chelsea pictures to the Joni Mitchell song. Wow this is fun.

Happy 4th of July

Jul 04, 2007 01:33 AM #19
Rainer
52,993
Abby Roselli
ALR Home Staging and Showcasing, LLC - Staten Island, NY
Staten Island Home Stager

Mitchell, I love this post!  I miss NYC so much!  Years ago, when I attended F.I.T., me and my friend used to take the X-bus from S.I. into the city for classes and we would laugh at how many Duane Reade's there were as we passed them on the bus.  The little storefronts are what makes NYC so special.  The chains are for the 'burbs. 

I am in retail Chain 'heaven' down here in GA.  Every 5 miles on any major artery are shopping plazas on either sides of the highway, home to the standard chains.  You'll fine a mom and pop nail salon, dry cleaner and tanning salon thrown in for variety, though.  (tee-hee!)  I think people like the security of knowing what to expect.  True Manhattanites like the variety and expect the unexpected. 

Thanks for the post!

Abby

Jul 09, 2007 02:48 AM #20
Ambassador
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Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services
This is so disgusting! I do not like seeing the Walgreen and CVS on every corner in every town. I can not believe they can make a profit being on every 2 blocks! But that just shows the sad state of affairs of Big Pharma getting everyone hooked on legal drugs. There is so much profit in drug pushing! 
Jul 09, 2007 03:38 AM #21
Rainmaker
597,761
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Abby,

Hi thanks for stopping by. FIT is a great school you must be a top stager. It's funny counting the Duane Reed's - there must be about 30 of them on the upper west side between my office and home. I like variety, I don't even mind chains if we had all different kinds of them. I admit I love Banana Republic and Pottery Barn.

Nestor and Katerina, I don't know how they make a profit, they are never crowded. It could be big pharma and HMOs all in it together. HMO's only cover drugs if you use their preferred pharmacy.

Jul 09, 2007 10:34 AM #22
Ambassador
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Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection
Mitchell I am so sorry, I too liked the small shops.  You are now going to experience what some of us out in the countryside had to face.  The big chains move in  and the small family shops close thus changing the dynamics of the community.
Jul 10, 2007 04:24 PM #23
Ambassador
602,901
Lizette Fitzpatrick
Lizette Realty - Richmond KY - Lexington, KY
Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes
Mitchell, It's sad that we have to have one of these stores on every block these days. We are swamped with Walgreens, Rite Aid and Walmarts here in Kentucky.  
Jul 13, 2007 12:07 PM #24
Rainmaker
597,761
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Update: 2011

Unfortunately it has been almost four year since I wrote this blog. The building's storefront retail space is still vacant.  Thriving businesses were forced out of business by a greedy owner/landlord hoping for a big box such as Walgreens or a big bank. Walgreens never rented the space. Walgreens bought bought the Duane Reade chain last year.

My understanding is that the ower/landlord is not a real estate professional. He is a Dentist or Doctor from New Jersey that inherited the building when Murray Klein one of the founders and original owner of Zabars and owner of several buildings on Broadway on the Upper West Side died.

Perhaps one day a big chain will pay a high rent but not even a $gazillion a month will be enough to ever make up the lost revenue from having an empty space for at least four years. Do the math.

In my humble opinion and as an experienced real estate broker there is something to be said about "A bird in the hand" or should I say 5 or 6 birds in the hand.

 

Apr 04, 2011 06:56 AM #25
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Mitchell J Hall

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