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Duane Reade – Oh Noes!

Oh great, now the Guardian (UK) is on the Duane Reade story. Must be news.

Give me a break.

It’s not news.

It’s a drugstore.

A shiny new, clean and characterless drugstore (I never thought I would use the words “shiny”, “clean” or “characterless” in describing a Duane Reade, but there you go). The second such shiny new, clean and characterless Duane Reade to open on the Northside in the past year.

In an article practically oozing with ridiculous Williamsburg stereotypes – hipsters, beards, tattoos, piercings, lifestyles “funded by middle-class parents” (in Ohio, no doubt), and rumors (rumors) of a Starbucks (a boogey man we’ve been hearing about for 15 years) – the Guardian tries to find deeper meaning in the opening of a new Duane Reade in a ugly condo on Bedford Avenue.

There isn’t any deeper meaning. It’s a drugstore. A lot of the “poor… Jewish, eastern European and Hispanic working-class immigrants” who populated the neighborhood until a decade ago are probably just fine with a new drugstore. But who knows? – the Guardian (and every other newspaper that has decided that this is “news”) didn’t interview anyone who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 7 years. The basis of the entire article is that people who have lived here for less than a decade are being forced out by the taint of corporatism. Other than acknowledging that there were groups of people who lived here before 2000 (but no artists or non-ethnic white people, apparently), there is no attempt to find out what longtime residents think about this – or even if, and more importantly, to what extent, those residents are moving/have moved out of the neighborhood.

Maybe the longtime residents aren’t shopping at Duane Reade. Maybe they don’t need growlers and frozen frat food. Maybe they like their neighborhood pharmacies but don’t sign petitions. (BTW – has anyone actually comparison shopped between DR and King’s? My scientific sampling shows that they both charge exactly the same amount ($10.99) for a bottle of contact lens solution, but that King’s has way better music).

The only sane person in the entire article is Josh Freeman, history professor at CUNY, who notes “Cities and neighbourhoods change all the time. You can’t freeze them. You don’t want to create a sort of museum”.

Amen.

So shop where you want. Just shut up about it. And remember, it’s just a drugstore.

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