New York Daily Photo Analytics

Monday, March 09, 2009

Lights on Broadway

[LightsOnBroadway700.jpg]The city daily photo concept was started by journalist Eric Tenin of Paris in March, 2005 with Paris Daily Photo. The original idea was to show a daily slice of life in Paris. The idea spread to now include hundreds of cities worldwide. The idea is a noble one, however, most readers do not want to be privy all the mundane chores of everyday living, so Eric's site, like most of the others, show a side of daily life of interest to outsiders which includes a spectrum of the more known to lesser known.
There are many things which are both unique and so commonplace in many locales that they are part of the fabric of that city or town, but perhaps not blogworthy or worthy of inclusion in a travel guide. The establishments every resident knows and uses. One of those places in New York City is Duane Reade, a local chain of stores that dominate the pharmacy business and is part of the love-hate relationship many New Yorkers have with this city.
At one time, there were only TWO all night drug stores in Manhattan. A late night pharmacy was a huge deal. Now Duane Reade is ubiquitous and New Yorkers are spoiled - we all just assume that a Duane Reade is a few steps away. And they are, with over 240 locations throughout the five boroughs and nearby suburbs, 59 of which are open 24 hours (5 with a 24-hour pharmacy). Two locations offer walk-in medical care.
However, although on paper these places seem like a godsend, many tend to fall down in service and overall management. Like many discount operations in New York City, getting good help at low wages who will take their jobs seriously is difficult. The experience in this chain tends to be uneven. There is even a blog ihateduanereade.
But the situation is really quite similar to the arrival of big box behemoths like Home Depot or Kmart. While many bemoan their presence, complaining of service and quality of product, many secretly appreciate the pricing, selection and hours.
One of the big factors in this equation is the walking nature of the city. In the suburbs, most customer patronage of retail stores is not so much a function of proximity to one's home or neighborhood - bad service or better pricing and customers will just drive elsewhere.
But in NYC, neighborhood delis and drugstores have virtual captive audiences - most residents will shop at the most convenient location to their home or office. Add competitive pricing and late hours to the mix and you can see why service is overlooked.
The quality of the Duane Reade establishments themselves vary quite a bit - some are newer and more spacious than others. I was surprised with this one in the Times Square area, appropriately (but atypically) with neon-framed windows. Quite visible to the person in need, but invisible to the visitor awed by the other lights on Broadway ...

NOTE ABOUT THE NAME: Duane Reade was named after their first location in 1960 on Broadway between Duane and Reade streets.


Jay said...

You sum up the love/hate relationship perfectly. "My" Duane Reade was on 88th and Madison, and it wasn't bad. Having moved to the burbs, I do miss the 24 hour access to nearly anything one needs at DR.

I wouldn't necessarily agree that the neon is "atypical" of DR stores, though. I remember there was a community fight over neon signage at one location (in the 70's on the UES) because of their garish neon. Additionally, the DR on 86th between Lexington and Park was taken to task for using the marquee (they converted an old theater) for signage.

A last note - during the first season of 30 Rock, DR is parodies as "Drug Rite" - locations on every corner of an intersection, horrible service. Classic.

Will Hennessy said...

Great info on Duane Reade...had no idea where the name came from, but now I wonder how it wasn't obvious! I remember someone mentioning the store on my first trip to NYC, and me saying, "who's Duane Reade and why would I want to go to him for some Excedrin?" LOL

Terry B said...

Whenever I'm in New York I end up at Duane Reade at least a few times each visit. They just always seem to be handy for one thing or another. I remember reading in an article in New York magazine that one reason they've been so successful is that they're really adept at working with oddly shaped, hard-to-rent retail spaces, so they can negotiate for affordable leases. And when you think of some you've been in, two levels and all twisty-turny, you see what the article was talking about.

Laptop Parts said...

Great Review! Well written and quite descriptive as well.. If any item or topic comes out then you should be the one releasing it to the public and make it known! The way you describe it is very intriguing and feels like candy to my ears, if that really makes any sense :) but you catch my drift.. In one of my classes, we were given a paper with instructions of how to build a swan made of aluminum foil and we had to explain to our group verbally how to construct the swan.. It was difficult! But, manageable and we came second in place, but it was tasky :) Nevertheless if you post anything else up I will most definitely check it out! Great review!

Annie said...

Very one who occasionally comes to NY and uses these places! Aren't they the ones who also sell all kinds of food etc also...I can never quite get used to the range of goods a pharmacy in NY stocks!!