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New York City’s Duane Reades are disappearing

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Pedestrians walk past a store that reads “Duane Reade.” Rblfmr/

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Duane Reade stores are closing, and some New Yorkers are nostalgic

New Yorkers are used to grieving the loss of mom-and-pop shops and neighborhood staples, but chain stores? Not so much. But the problems affecting local retailers are taking a toll on some of the city’s bigger and better-known chains—including the once-ubiquitous Duane Reade.

Less than 10 years ago, there were 235 Duane Reade branches in NYC, according to the New York Times, but now, as Gothamist reported, there are 91 locations in total. Most recently, on the Upper West Side, the store at Columbus Avenue and 97th Street closed, and EV Grieve reports that several other drugstores are due to close in the East Village.

Though Duane Reade has been owned by Walgreens since 2010 (and by other large corporations before that), its history is deeply embedded in NYC. The company, which began with just three stores, was founded in 1960 and was named after the streets that bounded its lower Manhattan warehouse: Duane and Reade.

A Walgreens spokesperson told Gothamist that 16 of their stores have closed this year in NYC as the company faced a new “cost management program.” The company is expecting to close 200 Walgreens (including several Duane Reades) across the country.

Neighbors didn’t expect to grieve corporate retail shops, but as Irwin Redlener puts it in a recent West Side Rag op-ed: “I have no idea how many local pharmacies were shuttered when the mega pharmacies came to town, but to many people, these corporate outlets have become very important in our neighborhoods.”

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