Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bedford Ave Corporate Conundrum

The following post was reprinted in Williamsburg Greenpoint New + Art. Check it out.

I thought it was bad when Duane Reade opened a new location at N 5th and Kent. Who the hell does development at their head office?! Have they not yet figured out that we’re in a recession? I mean, c’mon, they can barely pay their underpaid employees, let alone figure out a way to pay their burgeoning debt (just a few months ago, there was talk of Duane Reade going under).

Call me blind, but I only noticed today that the hideous constuction across the street from Kings Pharmacy is going to become *gasp* yet another Duane Reade. Blame this oversight on the fact that my daughter and I have, for the last couple of years at least, avoided Bedford Ave like the plague. Don’t get me wrong, I love Williamsburg. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, but I’m not in love with the recent influx of new-blood that has moved into the ‘hood (I don’t even need to go into this, do I?!). Now, I have nothing against drunk NYU and FIT students, nor do I have a problem with trustfunders (I have love for all God’s critters, after all), but the things I love about my neighborhood are not the throng of people exiting the L-train with me each evening, and I certainly am not fond of the ugly, cheap constructions that now litter the waterfront and surrounding area. When I must walk down Bedford, I’m like a horse outfitted with blinders—after work I head as fast as I can for home, neither looking to my right nor left (although here’s where I insert another disclaimer: I love Bedford Ave. I’m loyal to my bookstore, my coffee shop, and other businesses found on this street).

I largely ignored the Duane Reade stores that seem to be on every corner of Manhattan, but now that one is moving across from Kings Pharmacy, I’m a little upset. It’s been easy for me to ignore the one on Kent. It’s largely been out of sight, out of mind. I can say emphatically that l will never feel compelled to walk through their doors. But this new one… Hm.

Here’s my conundrum:

I’m devoted to buying the few things I need from small business. I will remain committed to Kings Pharmacy. Yet Kings closes at 9pm. This has been an inconvenience I’ve had to deal with for years. Unfortunately, my kid doesn’t just come down with illnesses between the hours of 8am and 9pm. There have been times when I’ve needed to fill prescriptions, and fast. My reserve might be tested somewhere down the line when the clock strikes midnight and my girl is suffering an asthma attack. Kings: I hope you’re listening! I hope you can modify your hours now that evil is moving right across Bedford Ave!

I’m not the only one to have had problems with Kings. My roommate, unfortunately, is not able to use her Flex Spending dollars at their pharmacy, and has resorted to ordering online from Again, Kings, I hope you’re listening!

Kings, I love you. I love walking in and singing to the Cure on the radio as I wait in line. I love the sweet girl behind the counter at the pharmacy who was so sympathetic a few years ago after I broke my arm and had two surgeries (I think I lived at Kings for a couple of months, picking up various prescriptions).

What’s the answer to my problem? How will I deliver myself from temptation? Oh, I will do my best.

I will also pray wholeheartedly that Duane Reade, in its overzealous greed to grow even as their numbers have been so terrible, comes crashing down like the Tower of Babel. Is it wicked to think like this? Perhaps. Even so, I’d have you each think twice before spending your hard-earned cash at a business that cares nothing for its employees (firing them even as they build more stores!) and seeks to destroy neighborhood businesses (um, moving directly across the street from Kings is just an asshole move).

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