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.