Duane Reade has been undergoing a major image change in New York, opening fancy new stores with Sephora-like beauty counters called “Look Boutiques” and selling “DR” chocolate-chip cookies in stylish cardboard boxes, but are New Yorkers biting? Shophound entered the palatial new digs in the former Parasuco space in Soho last weekend, and admits the brand’s cosmetic surgery is effective, preserving the old-world feel of its new location despite its latest retro-future logo.
Decades ago, the lavish interior would probably have been gutted to more efficiently accommodate retail tenants, but thanks to a more preservation minded era, the majestic columns and opulent details of the building have been carefully preserved, and, in some cases, display fixtures have been custom designed to seamlessly fit into the original marble installation. It’s not often that the words ‘elegant’ and ‘Duane Reade’ come to mind at the same time, but the drug chain, a frequent local target for grumbling, has taken an appealing direction for its continuing makeover. While we have always said that the space would have been more suitable for a luxury boutique or a sophisticated restaurant, the drugstore is a surprising improvement over its previous occupant.
Meanwhile, the superstore is opening its latest sprawling location in Union Square tomorrow, and it just announced today its plans to open another new location on Third Avenue and 57th Street, and then a 23,000-square-foot outlet in Trump’s 40 Wall Street. Even if the redesign still seems a bit awkward — and the chain continues to take over Manhattan — kudos to the drug store for preserving interesting interiors.