One of the arguments used to fight a proposal to change zoning rules on the Upper West Side in an effort to keep storefronts small (and possibly help mom-and-pop shops) was that Upper West Side stores were simply selling items for too much, and Duane Reade was successful because it sold things cheap.

A New York Post columnist lambasted the “leftist reactionaries” on the Upper West Side for not realizing Duane Reade is successful because it has “lower prices”. One of our commenters said local stores don’t do well because they simply charge too much, unlike Duane Reade whose “products costs less.” A store owner quoted by the New York Times about the rezoning plan lamented just how cheap everything is at Duane Reade.

Is Special K for $6.49 per 12 oz. box cheap? Is a bag of Doritos for $4.29 cheap? Is a liter of Ginger Ale (labeled Super Buy!) for $1.99 cheap?

People may like the convenience of Duane Reade (the 24-hour pharmacist at the 72nd Street location is pretty handy). They may say it’s “clean” in that way that people from the suburbs always say. It’s certainly well-lit. But cheap?

ABSURDITY, NEWS | 17 comments | permalink
    1. K says:

      Duane Reade? Cheap?! Low prices!? Are you kidding me? Shop around, people. Rite Aid has MUCH lower prices, plus if you have their card, you can work your way up to getting 20 percent off of every purchase. Low prices PLUS a discount. Even the people who work at DR shop at Rite Aid. They told me that ever since Walgreens bought them out, the prices have gone up daily. I live right next door to a DR and don’t go there unless it’s a life or death emergency!! Whenever I see people in the store, all I can think is, “Don’t they know about Rite Aid? Are they millionaires? How can I get their job!?” DR having “low prices” is Laughable!

    2. Jerry says:

      How about 2 liters of Coke for $2.29? That ain’t cheap! DR has taken over the marketplace, Take a look at ALL laundry detergent. Over 6 bucks for 50 ounces – then check out PriceWise, which almost always has it on sale for $3.99. DR also has a practice of presenting things like bagged snacks with yellow “hot buy” stickers as they sell them for list price. The truth is once they gained control of the marketplace, they could (and do) charge whatever the hell they want. Check out

    3. manhattanmarg says:

      these days, the only (and I mean *only*) thing I pick up at DR is Talenti Gelato for $5.99/pint – not bad for a phenomenal chocolate frozen treat – it rivals Jeni’s Ice Cream for $12.99 that can only be found at Dean & DeLuca or Forager’s here in town …

    4. LBP says:

      Most expensive pharmacy out there. Completely ridiculous! Spent 11.34$ on milk, vitamin water, 2 tiny bags of lays and bacon. CRAZY!!!

    5. Katherine says:

      I said this in the last round of comments on buying local but I’ll say it again. The West Side has a great local convenience store and pharmacy right at 85th and Broadway. Broadway Family Pharmacy (formerly West Side Family pharmacy at 89th and Amsterdam). Their prices are as good as DR, Rite Aid or CVS, and the pharmacy is fabulous. They remember who you are when you go in to refill a prescription. They’re fast and as cheap as the chains. Buy local!!!!!

    6. CB says:

      Gave up DR a few years ago now I buy everything from Items are generally $1 less than DR with same-day delivery to UWS. Could not be happier.

    7. Ragna says:

      DR is not cheap..I go to Walmart and buy there…so much cheaper then DR…I go into shock when i look at there prices even compared to CVS…

    8. Karen says:

      Thank you. I have been staying out of DR’s for many years due to their outrageous prices and poor customer service. But the other day I needed a bottle of cold water. I bought one in DR for $1.79. When I walked a mile to where I was going I went into Whole Foods and purchased the same exact bottle of water for .49 cents! Why are NY’ers patronizing DR’s??

    9. Steven says:

      Duane Reade is the biggest rip off in entire city. For all the toiletries stuff I go to Bed Bath and Beyond where the prices are at least 25% less that DR. As far as the Duane Reade pharmacy goes, I tried them one time and that was it for me. The pharmacy staff was completely incompetent, from loosing orders to now knowing how the cash register worked.

    10. Mary Jones says:

      If you want cheap prices go to CVS when they have a sale. Get the CVS card

    11. Ash says:

      So true! The prices there on almost everything are so outrageous – higher than other pharmacies, higher than discount stores, higher even than grocery stores. You’d think they’d at least keep things reasonable with medications and personal care items (which you might assume are their specialty), but those are some of the most ridiculous markups! The only value is the growler bar – maybe all of the other prices are subsidizing the amazingly good beer selection.

    12. Roger says:

      So what is the point of this dialogue? That the zoning proposal is sensible? Or misguided?

      IMO any sort of “zoning” will create price inflation. Operational scale lets the chains discount if they want to, but they’ll charge what the market will bear. If other chains passed their lower costs on to customers, then DR would be pressured. But putting restrictions in to try to reduce large scale stores ensures that prices won’t go down at all.

    13. Amriel says:

      Bed Bath and Beyond has the best prices on toiletries.

    14. red says:

      Neutrogena 2.5 oz Facial Lotion with Alpha Hydroxy

      Duane Reade $16.99
      Rite Aide $15.99 (half of for the second bottle if you buy 2)
      Apthorp Pharmacy $14.79
      That store by 86th St, stop…$13.99

    15. Liz says:

      Folks: Duane Reade cheats you on the price of a lot of items. Look at the price on the shelf. By the time you get to the checkout counter the price has somehow magically increased by 30 cents to a few dollars more.
      Buyer beware. Went to buy OTC drug, they tried to charge me $19.99 instead of $12.99.

    16. Bert says:

      Duane reade charging $114.00 for omron 7 series blood pressure monitor. Everywhere else is selling them for half that price. Do not shop at DuaneReade…

    17. J says:

      If you were trying to prove a point you should have given us a price comparison, rather then just asuming that we’d understand your argument by listing numbers with the word cheap and a question mark afterwards.