Down the corner from our apartment is a Walgreens where Husband and I both hated to shop. The clerks are rude and completely distracted,  the lines are hellishly long, it’s never very clean. But…it’s right down the block. Don’t even have to cross the street, which means it gets a lot of our last-minute business (a fast precription, toilet paper, children’s motrin, jujyfruits on the way to the movie theater).

Then this summer, just across 4th avenue, next to the newly opened (and badly stocked) Nordstrom Rack, a Duane Reade opened. A huge Duane Reade, practically midwestern in its sprawl. It’s clean and light and filled with all kinds of whatnots, including frozen pizza and expensive shampoo. Everything a gal could want.

So you’d think that this Duane Reade is designed to put the old grimy Walgreen’s out of business, right?

Wrongo, batman. Seems that Walgreens, last February, bought Duane Reade. For about a billion dollars.  That’s a lot of toilet paper and aspirin.

And as so often happens, when the spiffy new kid shows up, the wallflowers try to gussy up.  Our grimy Walgreens has undergone a transformation and now seems almost Duane-like in its spiffiness–and it’s stocked with the same stuff. 

Exhibit 1:


Exhibit 2:



It’s been a few days since I took these pictures and now when I look at them, I am not quite sure which is which. I think exhibit 1 is Duane Reade, which means the other one is the newly gussied-up Walgreens.

These two stores exist about 100 yards from one another. They sell pretty much identical merchandise at identical prices. Who benefits here? I guess the people who got jobs at the new DR, but I’m not sure about anyone else. How many epsom salts, shampoos, condoms, aspirins, and ace bandages does one really need in a square block radius?

Is this like some kind of expensive “survivor” type game? Whichever store becomes more profitable will stay open and the other store will close down?

It’s a little bizarre–we’ve gone from having one kind of scurfy store to having two positively gleaming emporia within a stone’s throw of the front door. I can’t figure out how on earth it makes any business sense, but I do know that both stores carry Frederic Fekkai’s new “Glossing” line of shampoo in a three-pack (shampoo, conditioner, and something else) for 27 bucks. YES I know that’s 9 bucks a (small) bottle, but it smells sooo good and comes in such a pretty package.

And isn’t it all about the package?