By Robin Cohn
The Duane Reade at 1889 Broadway near Lincoln Center is closing. It’s been there seemingly forever. It welcomed me to the West Side when I moved here in the 1990s. It was my neighborhood store. Soon, it will become ancient history.
There are some stores that are “runnable,” others “walkable.” Runnable means exactly that, i.e. I’m out of something I need right away. This is especially true late at night when you run over wearing your jammies under your coat. Walkable means not terribly far away, maybe a couple of blocks, but not a quick jog. And not spur of the moment.
I don’t know if any of you remember scrappy Love’s Discount. It was a discount drug store close to my Duane Reade. There were always great price wars between the two. Love’s was more competitive until Duane Reade bought five Love’s stores in 1985, including MINE. I have fond memories of Love’s. One time, it was practically giving away small bottles of contact lens saline. A little older lady was grabbing them up in her basket, carefully guarding the bin so no one else could reach them. She told me she didn’t know what they were, but it was such a good sale.
Back to my Duane Reade before it ate Love’s. Opening in the 1970s, it served the growing neighborhood around Lincoln Center. It was a scaled-down version of its present state. The store has always been busy with neighbors, ballerinas and musicians, students, and tourists. And the pharmacy — it was there for you when you had the flu and had to crawl over. Can’t crawl to a walkable. Yes, my Duane Reade turned spiffier as the chain grew. But as they say, location, location, location. The Duane Reade-suggested replacement store at 4 Amsterdam Avenue is 13 minutes away, according to Google maps. Walkable.
I’m all for change if there’s a benefit beyond bottom lines. And, yes, we move on. But I’m talking about the continued loss of history. And convenience. So, farewell to dear 1889 Broadway Duane Reade. You will probably be replaced by a bank.