As promised, I took a trip to the new Duane Reade in Herald Square. I really wasn't expecting too much to complain about, after all, this is probably where they've been spending all of their money. Rather than beefing up cashier training and pharmacy coordination, that is.
Duane Reade...brought to you by the $3.00 ATM fee. Let me find a better angle.
Ok, here we go. Nice new branding, all that jazz. Location's good - it's catty-corner (kitty-corner?) to Macy's so it's great for trapping the tourists.
When you walk in, the first thing that comes to mind is suburban grocery store meets hospital. Everything is bright white and spotless. This is to be expected, after all, they just opened a little over a week ago. On the first level there's food, cold items, beer, and something they're calling 'Apartment Living'. That's just a nice way of saying 'Here's some stuff to clean your shoebox of an apartment.'
I immediately went upstairs, understanding from all the blog postings that this is where the magic happens. And holy balls, it's fucking Sephora. The entire layout is exactly like Sephora, but what's hilarious is even minor items, like hand soap, get the well-lit row with brand names on top of the shelves. The staff upstairs is dressed in all black...again, the Sephora uniform. Very interesting.
The other thing that you notice right away is that you can't turn down an aisle without at least two DR workers stocking shelves or moving items around to look busy. This is why I wasn't able to take interior photos - the place was crawling with employees. Good plan. There is one cashier during the 4:30p rush on Park Ave. South, but Herald Square needs a dude rearranging baby wipes full time. I get it.
Speaking of aisles, they're getting all fancy-like and chose a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote to tempt you into buying hand cream. On the display: 'Beauty without grace is like the hook without the bait.' Ah, the fish reference. Gets me every time.
After about five minutes of walking in a circle, I feigned interest in a product on display called 'Perfect Cleavage Cream'. A young man saddles up next to me and says triumphantly 'this is also sold at Barney's.' This is true - I checked. I asked him and his co-worker, a woman with handy makeup fanny pack, whether they were trying to copy Sephora in their layout. Their response was a look at each other, an awkward chortle, and a decisive 'NO'. But, they tell me I should take advantage of their in-store events, which happen daily, and they give makeovers.
Dear readers, there are some things I am terrified to do and it usually involves Duane Reade employees touching my face.
As I was leaving, I picked up one of their 'mini wrap' sandwiches (taste test post TK), and passed a decorative table display of Brownie Pops with the sign 'What I Need Now'. Yes, Duane, what America needs is a table of diabetes.
All-in-all, if you want to brave the tourists and hit up Herald Square's DR, you should. You'll only appreciate it more because of the ten-cent versions you have in your neighborhood.
UPDATE: DrugstoreNews has a good slideshow of interiors. Enjoy.