"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 Walgreens
(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.
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.