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THREE LOCAL DUANE READES CLOSE OVER A SIX-MONTH PERIOD: WHAT GIVES?

duane reade 108
A Duane Reade on 108th and Amsterdam that closed last month. Photo by Ernie Fritz.

Three Duane Reade stores on the Upper West Side closed in a span of six months between last September and this February — one on 72nd and West End that closed in September, and locations on Broadway between 75th and 76th and on Amsterdam and 108th that both closed in February.

Given how quickly chain drugstores have proliferated in the neighborhood over the past few years, we wondered if this was part of a larger trend of downsizing.

Not so, replied a spokesman for Walgreens, which owns Duane Reade. He wrote that “From time-to-time we do close stores for a variety of reasons.”

“While the decision to close those locations were not easy, Duane Reade and Walgreens remains well positioned to service the needs of the Upper West End [sic] community and the rest of the City.” In fact, there are still 140 Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in Manhattan.

But more changes could come soon. Walgreens is attempting to buy Rite Aid, and if the deal gets approval it will be interesting to see if they’ll be closing any other locations.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 50 comments | permalink
    1. Doug Garr says:

      The Duane Reade on B’way between 83rd and 84th that closed about five years ago or more was the worst run store I’ve ever been in (Gristedes on 86th is a close second). I did a little dance when they shut down. Customer service was zero. They hired the worst people and were understaffed all the time.

    2. Brett Kelly says:

      And this is a bad thing?

    3. JM Kass says:

      I hope Walgreens doesn’t buy Rite Aid or any other drugstores.
      Competition is vital.

      What gives is also high rents. Low dollar items have to sell in the gazillions to turn a profit.

      Now ask why CEDRA on the east side of Broadway in the low 80s chose to open on the UWS. High incomes can help pay high rents, sure, but the store has had, at most, 3 customers when ever I’ve walked past.

    4. bob says:

      I thought it was a good trend. Now, if we could do the same for McDonalds, Banks and Healthcare rooms, perhaps local businesses could afford the rent.

      • Jerry says:

        Excuse me, “bob”, but for those of us who enjoy fast food, two McDonald locations on Broadway that are 25 blocks away from each other (between 69-70 and 95-96) are not too many locations.

        There are no Burger King, Wendy’s, or Taco Bell locations on the Upper West Side (the geographic area usually covered on this website).

        So, what’s your problem, dude?

        • Jane says:

          Right. There are not a lot of McDonald’s on Broadway, no one wants to walk 20 blocks to get to their bank, and who wants to clog up ER’s with people who have colds? Bob was just talking to be talking.

    5. Steve Reiness says:

      Are you kidding me? One of the 3 is the one I use – Broadway and 76th. So they had to build it in the first place?

    6. Diane says:

      Seriously? Do they need to buy Rite-Aid? What happened to competition? Between our election, the horrendous horribleness of the mess in Washington and Walgreens now trying to consume the competition, it’s all so, so depressing. You just want to grab a megaphone and scream into it “STOP! We can’t take anymore!” But we will.

    7. Don says:

      The only thing sweeter than hearing of a drugstore closing is when I hear of a bank closing.

      • EricaC says:

        You may be amused to know that a bank has to receive permission before it can close an existing branch – closing a branch is considered a detriment to the community.

      • Scott says:

        So you’re more of a payday loan store kind of guy?

    8. Madeline says:

      It’s the nature of corporate colonialism: use ’em, abuse ’em, and when convenient, dump ’em. #shoplocal

    9. west side walking says:

      My Duane Reade on Broadway and 88th Street always as plenty of customers, although I noticed they carry less “store brands” and the prices are higher. And long ago they transitioned to using the Walgreen name on their merchandise. Also I used to get a weekly ad emailed to me, and no longer see them. I was pleased to have the once a month Senior Citizen Day on the first Tuesday of the month. If that ends, there is noting special for me to shop there.

    10. Tom D says:

      Constant batching about all of the drug stores on UWS and now more batching about closing. Is no one here ever happy?

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “Is no one here ever happy?”

        SOITENLY they are! (to quote “Curly” [né Jerome Horwitz] of The Three Stooges), BUT ONLY

        “When the moon is in the Seventh House
        And Jupiter aligns with Mars
        Then peace will guide the planets
        And love will steer the stars”

        For then we will have “The Age of Aquarius’

        Till then we will have Konstant Kvetching !

        Mystic Crystal Revelation, y’all!!

    11. V says:

      I’m disappointed that they aren’t closing all of their stores! They are the biggest rip-off chain in the city. Never sales and totally overpriced. I really hope they don’t get Rite Aid. What ever happened to anti-monopoly laws?

    12. Tom Rph says:

      Check the internet. If Walgreens wants to buy Rite Aud they have to divest some stores. This will be done both in the city and nationally.

      The stores are not just competing with each other but also mail order. This is happening throughout health care industry.

    13. Linda says:

      But look at how many other Duane Reades are in the area. The one on 72nd and West End was at the other end of the block that the one at 72nd and Broadway/Amsterdam. There is one at 75th & Columbus and another at 79th & Amsterdam. I don’t think these closings mean anything other than perhaps a 5 min longer walk.

      • sam says:

        yeah – I can only assume they closed the ratty un-renovated one on 72nd and west end because of the newer one that had opened at 72nd and broadway.

        I was actually surprised it remained open for as long as it did – and just assumed they were waiting for the lease to run out.

    14. Tyler says:

      Ever since the CVS moved into 77th and Broadway I’ve felt no need to wait in a line 5 deep at Duane Reade on 79th and Amsterdamn to buy toothpaste. CVS’s self service is always faster. If Duane Reade bothered to hire enough people for two or more dedicated cashiers at all times I might bother with them.

      • Cato says:

        In addition to the staffing issue, on which I agree with you, I always prefer CVS over Duane Reade because CVS does not sell cigarettes while Duane Reade does.

        I’ve never understood how a pharmacy can encourage people to maintain an addiction, pollute their lungs (and those of people around them) and destroy their health. I’d much rather support a pharmacy that refuses to do that.

    15. Lynn says:

      Since Duane Reade drove out independent drug stores in the late 70’s and 80’s, I am not the least bit sorry about their demise. For those who want lower prices, try the drug store area of Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

    16. B.B. says:

      Can remember when the only DR stores were mostly downtown/Wall Street area, and or only far up as Mid-town; then all heck broke loose as they expanded all over Manhattan.

      As Starbucks killed off small independent coffee places, DR either purchased or drove out of business small pharmacies.

      Stopped going to DR after Walgreens got their mitts on them and things began to change. Less store brands and more high priced “WG” items. Duane Reade’s brand were often a good bargain. Whereas Walgreens are almost always far more expensive and not that much cheaper than national brands.

      Have been going to Rite Aid now for several years. Their prices are simply much better than DR/Walgreens. Especially on sale items and or staples such as milk, paper products, etc.. Miss their rewards program and while not a huge fan of Plenti, it can be useful.

      In a dense urban area like NYC you have DR, Walgreens and RiteAid all within a few blocks if not the same street as each other. With one parent company owning all three someone has got to go.

      DR seems to be closing stores all over NYC, including recently renovated locations.
      http://tribecacitizen.com/2017/01/27/duane-reade-is-closing-a-tribeca-store/

      • Jess says:

        I would bet the internets mean fewer sales all around – people can get what they want and sent straight to their doors via Amazon, Soap.com, etc. Even prescriptions can be filled online and delivered now… For me, with a young child, my beef is the lack of 24 hour pharmacies in the area. We used to have a bunch, but several have cut back on hours. It was lovely for me or my husband to be able to get home from work at 9pm and pick up an rx… but I guess not enough people were doing that.

        • B.B. says:

          Wonder just how great the demand is for late or overnight drug prescription service.

          For years nearly every DR one went to late/over night found the pharmacist on duty sleeping. This or when you telephoned in a refill it was obvious when call was answered you “woke up” someone.

          Know the large DR on 74th and Third is still 24 hours but serves as the referral pharmacy for Lenox Hill Hospital’s ER at 77th and Lexington.

    17. UWSSurfer says:

      Duane Reade tried the Starbucks’ model of a store on EVERY block.

      My smallish DR closed (253 W. 72nd St at West En)d. I keep trying to find out where my favorite , MOST helpful pharmacist, TED (Thadious) is scheduled in the still remaining
      DR locations in our neigborhood…

    18. nycityny says:

      I’m a CVS person since it’s the closest drug store to where I live. Plus, I almost never have to wait in line with their wonderful self-service checkout machines.

      Duane Reade has had horrible service for years with long lines at checkout and incompetent/unfriendly salespeople. A friend and I use the name as a pejorative whenever we describe bad service we’ve received anywhere. We say that the service or the employee was “Duane Reade.” Nuff said.

    19. Panko R Crumb says:

      “One morning, Gregor Samsa awoke to find his apartment had been transformed into a Drug Store Conglomerate”

    20. Judy Harris says:

      The Duane Reade at 86th and Lex is closed as well. This was once a Gimbels East and then a Loewes multiplex and now what? Someone I know heard CVS is going in there.

      • B.B. says:

        There was a great HMV store in same building where Best Buy is now. Loved their classical music department.

        That DR may have closed due to increased rents. Over years that corner of East 86th and Lexington has become a bit more upscale with a new apartment building across the street. Another is going up on the other side of Lexington as well.

    21. john says:

      They are making room for the Yaofang stores.

    22. john says:

      China Nepstar Chain Drugstore Ltd is about to open stores in NYC, DR is closing in anticipation of competition

    23. James Ryan says:

      Said the spokesman:

      “While the decision to close those locations were not easy, Duane Reade and Walgreens remains well positioned to service the needs of the Upper West End [sic] community and the rest of the City.”

      Upper West End? Yeah, we can assume Walgreens Corporate has never really looked at the market here, have they…?

    24. Paul RL says:

      I would’t care if any of drugstores or banks closed as long as something came in to take their place. It’s the empty storefronts that are truly depressing. Unfortunately the bar has gotten so low here on the UWS that these are the preferences we are faced with.

    25. Woody says:

      I can’t imagine being so miserable that I would cheer any business establishment closing and taking jobs with it. What a pathetic reaction.

    26. Christine says:

      Walgreens on 57th just east of 9th Ave just closed, too. Without any notice.

    27. Mark says:

      Except for prescriptions I can see no reason to go to a brick-and-mortar drug store when I can get everything through Amazon Prime.

      A few clicks at my convenience and quick delivery – no need for some surly clerk to sigh at the need to do her job.

      • Independent says:

        “no need for some surly clerk to sigh at the need to do her job.”

        Not to justify unacceptable service but I do have to wonder how much experience you’ve had with being stuck at a low-paying, dull, monotonous job with little hope/ meager prospects for advancement.

        • Mark says:

          I worked as a checkout clerk throughout high school.
          But is that really relevant?
          You say “not to justify” – so what’s your point?

    28. Che says:

      Big-store chains and online stores prevail over small neighborhood stores, Mom and Pops. A NYC commercial rent control wherein landlords can not make small store rents unaffordable from one lease to the next might be nice too.

    29. Mark Moore says:

      Even worse, Duane Reade no longer has Chase ATMs. They’re Citibank now. Who has Citibank?

    30. Independent says:

      Apropos online vs. brick-and-mortar shopping:

      While I buy from Amazon and other online merchants quite a bit myself and while there is no denying that doing so offers many benefits…

      – there can also be many less-than-desirable aspects to shopping online,
      – there can still be much to say for the experience of going in-person to an actual store, and,
      – the proliferation of Amazon (as well as other online retailers, though mostly to lesser degrees) has brought its own set of problems– many quite formidable (increased vehicle congestion; loss of employment for many; and many others)

      To illustrate the second of my above three above points, let me recount a personal experience.

      A while back I needed a simple LED night-light– one WITHOUT a motion or light sensor. Amazon bombarded with thousands of products but all seemed to feature motion or light sensors. Attempts to filter my results to exclude said features were to no avail. After struggling through several pages of results, battling the numerous CPU- and RAM-draining, privacy-invading, tracking and advertising assaults that Amazon loads each and every page with, I gave-up, exhausted and exasperated. I walked-into a Rite Aid, found my way to the appropriate section and quickly and easily found a simple, no-frills LED night-light that was exactly what I was looking for. I did have to wait on line to checkout but it was not too bad.

      Could I have found a night-light on Amazon or elsewhere online that would have been a better value? Almost certainly, I could have– eventually; at what cost in terms of time and aggravation?

    31. Ted says:

      I’m going to go way out on a limb and say maybe someone realized that they don’t need one store per customer.

    32. NYYgirl says:

      Anyone else remember when there were the 2 ‘dueling’ (not) DR stores diagonally across from each other on 57th & Bway? Or for that matter, when some well-meaning but maybe (hindsight always being 20/20, lol) misguided community members bonded together to get rid of the CVS on Bway bet 102nd & 103rd before it even got there?! Give me back something please…the 1/2 block long shuttered stores of any kind for who knows how long are unbelievably depressing!!

    33. Lyri Clark says:

      I miss the 2 excellent DR stores that shuttered …one was W 72nd near WE avenue and the other on Bway @76th. They both had careful attentive pharmacists, and were fully stocked with nice selected cosmetics.
      Walgreens has left us with an overcrowded store on W72 and Bway and a definitely meaningless one on Bway @70th. They didn’t do their demographic homework very well. The stock in 70th is a puzzlement…odd brand cosmetics and nothing much downstairs. Both shuttered stores (especially 76th) were interesting and somewhat eclectic for DR…CVS is overpriced and boring and very generic. For some odd reason, they refuse to carry newspapers. It’s a chain and each CVS store has the same cheap goods no matter what city you’re in.