Something Walgreens this way comes.

I live in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. A while back the Key Food in my neighborhood closed. This wasn’t something that I felt strongly about at the time. I hadn’t been to the Key Food for nearly a year when it closed. I had been buying all my groceries from little stores on Prospect Park West. I had also always hated the Key Food. The quality of the food was pretty low, and it was a stress inducing supermarket experience. So once a great produce store opened up on PPW, and I no longer had any need for the Key Food, I was relieved. Just super thrilled to be done with that place.

So when I heard it was closing I didn’t really give it a second thought. And when I heard a Walgreens was moving into the empty space and that people were upset about this, I kind of understood why, but I didn’t see it as being something worth getting really up in arms about. Key Food was the only full service supermarket in our neighborhood. But I hadn’t needed it in a while, and business is business. Stuff closes and other stuff moves in. This is Brooklyn. Dynamic and constantly changing. So why all the fuss?

This was my initial, unexamined, and ultimately wrongheaded view of this situation.

Then we all got a letter from our Assemblymember James Brennan, and he set me straight. Assmblymember Brennan pointed out that Key Food’s delivery program had provided an invaluable service to a number of the older members of our community, as well as a number of folks with disabilities. Without this, these folks are being placed in a tough spot. They don’t currently have a lot of acceptable, affordable alternatives. This was not something I had considered. Additionally, Mr. Brennan, Councilmember Brad Lander, and Borough President Marty Markowitz set up a meeting with Walgreens representatives and pointed out the problem. They even offered a bunch of options for the Walgreens folks to consider. For instance, renting out part of the space to a supermarket. They even lined up a bunch of grocers who were interested in moving into the area for the purpose of facilitating this solution. The Walgreens reps basically thumbed their noses at all of this. Not even an attempt at compromise. And all in the face of vocal disapproval and calls for a boycott from the members of the Windsor Terrace community.

All of this kind of paints an unplesant picture. Most of which wasn’t clear to me until I received Mr. Brennan’s letter.

It is also worth noting that the reason for the Key Food’s closing had nothing to do with profitability. It was owned by an old man who decided to get out of the business and sell to the highest bidder. With no regard for the effect this might have on the surrounding community. I add this piece of information just to answer some of the blog comments that I have read that make the argument that there is no market support for a grocery store. There is simply no evidence to support this assertion.

So Walgreens: I say be ashamed. Not only for hurting the elderly and disabled, but for behaving stupidly. Who exactly do you think shops at a Walgreens in Brooklyn? People who live near it. And if a whole lot of those people are real pissed at your company, that’s not good for business. This isn’t the Chicago suburbs. Folks aren’t driving in from Ditmas Park or Park Slope to go to Walgreens. It’s just the 9000 households of Windsor Terrace. 3000 of whom have already signed a boycott petition. And hopefully, that number will continue to increase as more people learn what incredible dicks you’ve been about this whole thing.  So go fuck yourself Walgreens. Go fuck yourself real hard. And while you do that, maybe think about why it is exactly that you hate the elderly and disabled so much. I mean, did an old doctor in a wheelchair make a mistake while delivering your baby brother, causing  your mother to bleed out all over the operating room floor? Did you have a bad experience with a grandparent? Did they touch you in inappropriate places with their mobility device? Why all the hate, Walgreens? What’s your deal?  

To see what the good folks fighting the good fight have to say, go here: http://www.greenbeansnotwalgreens.org/index.html

To see the letter from Assemblymember James Brennan go HERE.

I hope the core point everyone takes away from all of this is that Walgreens hates the elderly and disabled.

And if you have a choice where you live, maybe don’t go to Walgreens next time you fill a prescription. That is, if you don’t hate old people.


About Chris Michael

Eating guitars since 2009.
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2 Responses to Walgreens.

  1. NoneOfYourBusiness says:

    Really? You think Walgreens hates the elderly because they bought a store-space? Big companies make big business decisions every day. Walgreens did not buy that space because they ‘hate the elderly’. The elderly is a majority of their prescription profit! This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.

    • I’m going to take this point-by-point:

      I did not say nor do I think that the problem with Walgreens’ behavior is that they bought the space. What I DID say in the largest paragraph of a short blog post is that Walgreens has expressed indifference to the clearly articulated needs and desires of the community that represents nearly the entire marketplace of the individual store in question.

      That the articulation of these needs and desires came from relatively high profile public figures makes this recalcitrant behavior even less acceptable. If our state assemblymember, our counselmember and our borough president all feel strongly enough about the need for a full service grocery in our neighborhood to call a public meeting with Walgreens officials in which they outline several compromises that would allow Walgreens to 1) create additional revenue streams; and 2) ameliorate the public relations issue within the store’s target community; then it would be in Walgreens’ best interest to at least respond with an equally thoughtful rejection. That we instead got what essentially amounts to a non-response is telling.
      It says that Walgreens is willing to bet a large sum of money that we don’t really care as much as we say we do about finding a way to keep a full service grocery in our neighborhood. That we don’t really care as much as we say we do about the fact that individuals with limited mobility in our community are now less able to access affordable necessary groceries. That we will forget all about this and start shopping at Walgreens once all the dust settles on the renovation project. Maybe they are right. But I certainly hope that we prove to be something more than what they’re betting we are. I hope that we prove to be a community with enough integrity to maintain our concern and interest in looking out for the needs and desires of the most vulnerable members of our population, no matter how much time passes.

      So, to answer your initial question: no. I never focused on the purchase of the store. I think even a cursory reading of the post that you commented on makes this clear. What I focused on was the behavior of the corporate representatives in the face of popular concern, expressed to them by elected officials. While I do not feel it could be clearer in the original post, you now have a far more fleshed out iteration of my position to answer any questions you might have as to what I think.

      To address the balance of your comment, big companies probably do make big decisions every day. While that’s a nice truism, it’s completely irrelevant to this issue. That a large company makes “big decisions” on a frequent basis says nothing about the wisdom of any of those decisions. Or whether a particular decision is an example of good corporate governance. Or whether that decision reflects a hatred of a certain population. So while it is certainly true, and I am always really happy to see such Decartesian truth in the universe, it is a totally irrelevant contribution to an overall vapid comment.

      Whether people of advanced age represent the majority contribution to the prescription derived profits within the Walgreens corporation is also irrelevant to this issue. We can and should distinguish between a company taking your money, and caring about you. In fact, I would argue that it is particularly perverse for a company to take your money and simultaneously act to make it harder for you to get the necessities of life. Like affordable food deliveries for people who don’t get around so well. So assuming, arguendo, that you are correct about the importance of the elderly to the Walgreens corporation, when they refuse an offer by the Borough President and State Assemblymember which would increase their revenue by providing a grocery sublet, and would prevent hardships from unnecessarily befalling a population which is as important to them as the elderly, this does little to refute the idea that they are a closeted old-person-hater. In fact it seems to paint the picture of a ruthless old miser who continues to take the money from the people he secretly hates even while scheming to take away their food. In any case, your point has no impact on whether or not Walgreens hates old people. It may even cut the other way, by illustrating a perversely cynical organization of dark miserly old-person haters. Either way it doesn’t seem to help your argument given that Walgreens is ACTUALLY engaging in behavior that tends to harm older members of our community. Which is why there are protests and meetings with elected officials.

      I know based on the level of ignorance displayed in your comment as to what I actually wrote earlier, you either aren’t very good at reading, or aren’t very good at understanding how comments (or rational comprehension) work(s). Either way I imagine I’ve pretty much lost you at this point. Your little troll brain is waaay past its maximum character input. But pay attention. There’s just a little more. You ignorant, illiterate, troll.

      The last thing we’re left with is your statement that “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.” Now it is my turn to say: Really? That would actually make me very proud if it were true. I have always wanted to write the most ridiculous thing someone has ever read. I am seriously being honest about that. Wait ’till you read the post RIGHT below the Walgreens post where I talk about dead people coming back to fucking life. In a totally straight faced series of posts (more of those coming by the way.) Or the series of posts where I describe my preparation for eating a guitar live on stage. This includes a trip to Russia to train in the style of Rocky IV, meditation with a Gastro-Swami I claim to levitate with, the consumption of 50 hard boiled eggs I claim to have learned to do from watching a competitive eating film called Cool Hand Luke – which I further claim was filmed in Paul Newmann’s underground laboratory, and then there’s the post where I describe observing my guitar watch Court TV for days on end after reading The Art of War. There is also my other blog where I routinely slandered the founding fathers in posts with names like: Alex “Killa Killa” Hamilton: Rapist, Babykiller.

      All this is to say that if you thought the WALGREENS post was the most ridiculous thing you have ever read, I can’t wait for you to read some of the rest of the things I write. Whoa boy are you in for a treat. Stick around my troll-like friend. I will show you new worlds. New fucking Worlds.

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