In the last couple of decades drugstore chains (Duane Reade and CVS) and bookstore chains (Barnes & Noble and Borders) have taken over Manhattan. There are very few small independent bookstores left — The Corner Bookstore and Crawford Doyle Booksellers on Madison Avenue are two good ones that display a definite taste in books. Anything on their shelves is interesting, unlike the shelves at a chain store, but I sadly doubt they can survive. I used to shop expensively at Shakespeare and Co in a quixotic attempt to keep them going when B&N first moved into the neighborhood, but it was futile.
Now look at my collage above: near Lincoln center between CPW and Bway within the space of a few blocks there are three unlikelysmall drugstores. How do THEY stay alive? They are cute and anachronistic, but they don’t sell anything special. What would anyone buy there that they couldn’t get more cheaply and brashly at DR, from antibiotics through sunblock and beachbags to oatmeal?
Or are these small unlikely drugstores Pynchonian/Men-In-Black secret gateways to some other world, serving a common purpose that none of us except their proprietors know, who, subsidized by some mysterious mission, meet weekly to further their common cause?
Stations on an underground railroad for failed financiers to flee to Canada? A Rosemary’s Baby experiment to create a future chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank?
You never know. Manhattan has many mysteries.