Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Is Everybody Happy?

They are if they get their prescriptions filled at Block Drugs on 101 Second Avenue in the East Village. Block Drugs is one of Manhattan’s last neighborhood drug stores, a rarity in a city overrun with faceless chains. They carry the usual stuff, as well as the sort of cool items that can only be found at a place that caters to a local clientele. Just check out these women, they are obviously happy shoppers. “Look at my purse,” says the female pointing at her bag, “I just refilled my husband's Viagra prescription and I still have money left for a Frappacino! Thank you Block Drugs!”

Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York: At the corner of 2nd and 6th, there’s Block Drug Stores, a.k.a. Second Avenue Chemists. Established in 1885, it has been run by the Palermo family since 1962. It’s a tiny shop with a big, gorgeous neon sign, a pressed-tin ceiling, and personalized, knowledgeable service. They also have an antique coin-operated scale by the door that comes complete with a metal hook designated, “Hang Parcel Here,” so the weight of your parcel (a vanished word, by the way) doesn’t skew your results. (Interior pic courtesy Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York)


20 comments:

-K- said...

Love that sign, the font, the color. I bet it looks great at night.

Hilda said...

LOL at your first paragraph! I miss those scales! You don't have to look down, squint to see the numbers, or — when you're weighing luggage — have to worry about the numbers being covered!

• Eliane • said...

I especially like that last picture and the great neon sign. I hope they can be in business for a long long time. Not easy nowadays. They just opened yet another DR in my neighborhood. I think they are beating Starbucks now.

Ming the Merciless said...

As much as I love the small mom-and-pop stores, I have to admit I get my prescriptions and toiletries from the big chain drug stores in my neighborhood. That is because the small stores are never open early enough in the morning or late enough in the evening for me to shop there.

At the end of a long work day, convenience trump cute little stores.

ken mac said...

Once again, it is not about cuteness. It's about either living in a city that feels like a neighborhood with vendors and store owners that you know and who possibly care about you, or living in city that is faceless, careless, and has about the same amount of history, personality and intimacy as Phoenix or Charlotte. New York used to be a city of small personal neighborhoods. That has been replaced by towering condos, chain stores on every corner, and a scarcity of local businesses. It's not the city I came to in the mid 80s. Granted nothing stays the same, but this city is under seige by developers and their loyalists who lack taste, class and brains.

• Eliane • said...

I think this is especially true for this specific type of business. Very hard to compete with a DR.
A friend in WY was running such a store (bigger I think) which was as old as the state, passed on from generations to generations. He was thorned (sp?) to be the one who had to decide to close this local institution. A Walmart was just built about a year before. Absolutely no way to compete with that. How sad is that?

Taste, class and brains are not part of the equation. The only driver is money.

ken mac said...

The CVS on 6th near 3rd closes at 8pm. Every day. It is about taste, developers have none unless it about new buildings for wealthy owners or renters, and these buildings typically decimate local communities. It's happening all over Manhattan, it couldn't be more obvious. The Trump tower on Varrick has caused another nearby old building to go condo, and two more buildings once full of local renters are also being sold and going condo. It's every street, city wide. I dunno, I guess some people prefer blue glass skyscrapers to red brick tenements.

ken mac said...

Just look at today's post re Cooper Square. Yet another incredibly historical tenement about to be razed so a condo developer can have more marketing opportunies. Not everyone lives in a condo, weekends at the beach, or lives in a doorman building , or even wants to. Some remember the New York that was, a city of neighborthoods. Crap, that is only aboutr 5 years ago!

ken mac said...

Ming and Eliane, please forgive my overheated comments of yesterday. It was a looooooong day, including a late night trip to the Emergency room! I'm okay now...

Anonymous said...

No Ken, you aren't wrong. You are going through the grief process of losing your beloved city. We're all losing it. Yes, things change, nothing stays the same but where are the great architects, designers, art societies who could be fighting for some kind of city wide standards, demanding that developers meet NYC standards of 'taste', unity, community, artistic asthetics, etc. I have lived in city neighborhoods with neighborhood corner grocers. I have lived right over a drugstore In Norfolk, VA just exactly like this one. A sense of neighborhood is precious, perhaps a dying animal. Betty.

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