Monday, December 10, 2007
In the sea of ever-multiplying Duane Reades, Rite-Aids, and Walgreens, it’s nice to know there are still a few independent pharmacies surviving in the city.
For the East Village, on 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 nice vanished word, by the way) doesn’t skew your results.
I went into Block the other day to get a jumbo container of Tums. While waiting for Carmine Palermo to fill her prescription, a gregarious older woman introduced herself as Lucille and wished me Happy Holidays. She then proceeded to pick lint from the sleeve of my coat.
“What have I got there,” I asked, “a little schmutz?”
Lucille laughed, “It’s lint. Look at this! This is a nice pea-coat, you don’t want lint all over. Turn around.”
I obediently did as I was told and Lucille went to town, picking and brushing with her fingertips every last bit of lint from my coat. “I just can’t help myself,” she chuckled.
In the front window of Block is a sign that asks, “Unhappy with chain stores?” For me, the answer is yes, I am unhappy with chain stores. They don't have pressed-tin ceilings, efficient service, or 100+ years spent developing a unique personality. And, not for nothing, they also don’t have compulsive and friendly old ladies sitting around just waiting for a chance to de-lint your coat.