Is it possible that one of the more interesting retailers of the Summer is... Duane Reade?
Maybe. Only a few weeks after they debuted a splashy new store on Union Square, Duane Reade unveiled its newest location on the corner of Lafayette and Spring Streets in SoHo. Though it's not as spacious as the flagship prototype, the new store follows a scaled back version of the template, with a healthy portion of prime street level space devoted to an expanded, Sephora-like beauty department. The more mundane pharmacy department is hidden away downstairs in what was probably the vault of the former bank space.
Of course, 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, the Canadian denim brand Parasuco, though a few of the girders from its decor remain to remind us of its tenancy.
Those of you who are not inclined to travel downtown to experience the chain's latest edition, need only exercise a bit of patience. Eventually, all of the locations should get the makeover treatment, and it looks like the next super-sized flagship to appear will be at the former Maurice Villency showroom on Third Avenue and 57th Street