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Nina In New York: Is That You, Duane Reade?

A young professional's take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

One of those brand, spanking new Duane Reade palaces has just opened in my neighborhood, and I stand in awe of it. It is a sparkling, bright white monument to drugstores. Can we even still call it a drugstore?

They've got real live produce; "Brew York City," a fancy beer bar where you can purchase a growler (fancy word for jug) of fancy beers on tap; "freshly prepared meals," (if you try the sushi and live to tell the tale, I'd love to hear about it); the "Look Boutique," an enormous beauty center; plus a movie theater, a flight simulator, a 3-D, virtual man-sized chess board, and an observatory with a telescope pointed directly into Madonna's alleged pied à terre. It's the store that truly has it all.

Including higher prices.

Point of fact: the expensive shampoo to which I treat myself twice a year and only use sparingly for "special occasions" is now three whole dollars more than it was at my stinky, old Duane Reade! Three dollars! That's a lot in the world of drugstore shopping. I know what you're thinking—this is a travesty and an injustice of epic proportions. Luckily, said stinky, old Duane Reade is still in existence for the time being, and they continue to sell my shampoo at the lower price. I'm sure they'll phase this branch out eventually in favor of the new Death Star store, in which case I will have to stock up now and start limiting my shampoo use to extra special occasions like my birthday, weddings, and next year's "Mad Men" season premiere. It's a matter of principle, more than anything.

This does raise the larger issue of how many other $$ hikes this mega store has brought along with it. I have yet to do an exhaustive comparison (I'm not saying I wouldn't), but I can't imagine my shampoo is the only item to get a significant bump. It's just the one I happened to notice. It's likely that much of their inventory now bears a higher price tag. And not that I'm not appreciative of all the excellent improvements that have been made, but I'm not totally sure I would have embraced the "New Y0²rk City" designer oxygen bar had I known that my overall cost of household necessities would go up each month. Everything here is more expensive as it is. I'm going to have to start shipping my toilet paper from Indiana.

I could try shopping at the Rite Aid near me, but from the looks of it, I'm pretty sure it's infested with zombies. I suppose I have to embrace this change and try to enjoy it, despite the knowledge that I'm probably being gouged. Oh well, I guess I won't cancel Gus's 3:00 p.m. pedicure at "Le Woof DR Doggie Spa."

See Also: A Guide To NYC Pet Pampering

Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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