Tracy's New York Life | A New York City Lifestyle Blog: Indie Apothecaries: Still Alive in New York City

Indie Apothecaries: Still Alive in New York City

by Michelle Carol
Pasteur Pharmacy on E. 34th Street
I needed a new shower curtain recently and I was disappointed by the availability and variety in Duane Reade. DR stores, now owned by Walgreen's, are strategically placed every 2-3 blocks in Manhattan, so there's never an excuse to not shop there.  After visiting four within a five-minute walk from my apartment, I decided to extend my search elsewhere and venture further into the bitter cold to find the best classic pharmacies in Manhattan. Little did I know the selection of these shops that still remain open around the Big Apple ---what a treat.
You know those kinds of pharmacies—the ones with imported soaps you’ve never seen before, shiny department store cosmetics (minus the hell of walking into a department store), and wooden combs that cost more than the Time Warner bill. Apothecaries. Classic Rx.

Perusing the aisles of these five quintessential NYC pharmacies felt a bit like that old game show, "Supermarket Sweep." I realized all the products I truly need in my life. And after several hours scouring the aisles of the vintage shops where I could spend thousands of dollars in minutes, I'll never joke about accidentally spending $50 in Duane Reade again.

Greenwich Village
414 Sixth Avenue
Est. 1838
C.O. Bigelow in the Village is the oldest apothecary in this country.
Did you know the oldest apothecary in America is here in New York City? C.O. Bigelow has remained a Greenwich Village landmark for 175 years. Bigelow has the most intense WOW factor of all the pharmacies I visited. 

With high ceilings to accommodate the wooden storage cabinets that remind me of my high school science class, gilded chandeliers and railings, as well as long glass cabinets, I couldn't help but feel like I stepped back in time. 
The gilded chandeliers and railings add to the charm at C.O. Bigelow
Bigelow has everything from department store bath and body products, to luxurious Diptyque candles starting at a modest $60 a pop. The best lip balm I have ever had is sold here for $7.50, C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Balm Stick-No-Shine SPF #15, and it's worth every penny. 

Upper West Side
2201 Broadway
Est. 1910
The Apthorp Pharmacy is located in one of the most famous buildings in Manhattan.
A bright and sparkling shop beneath the prestigious Apthorp building at the corner of W. 78th and Broadway, Apthorp Pharmacy has served its community for over 100 years with filling prescriptions, fertility Rx services, veterinary Rx services, and prominent compounding
Colorful boxes or Marvis toothpaste line the shelves at the Apthorp Pharmacy.
Apthorp is a one-stop destination for Fekkai, Rene Furterer, and Moroccanoil® hair products, and also offers an overwhelming assortment of candles, hairbrushes, bath salts, and imported soaps. They offer same day delivery service to anywhere in Manhattan. If you’re a curious hands-on shopper, you'll want to touch every product in this store.

Pasteur Pharmacy
Midtown East
53 E. 34th St.
Lenox Hill
806 Lexington Ave
Est. 1930
Pasteur is known for their men's shaving accoutrements.
Pasteur Pharmacy makes me wish I were a man so that I could blow my paycheck on shaving supplies such as tools, creams, and brushes. I would have the most distinguished beard of all of my friends. Seriously though, Pasteur’s is the Guggenheim of wet shaving products. I couldn't believe my eyes! I stood in the shaving aisle and felt like a jaw-dropped girl in Sephora for the first time, learning that eye shadow comes in more than two colors. 

One Yelper raved, “If you can't find a health and beauty aid product here, you don't need it.” Customers can find bath and body products as well as pantry staples like canned soup, cereal and oatmeal in the narrow aisles.

246 Eighth Ave
Est. 1960
The New London Pharmacy is located in the London Terrace apartments in Chelsea.
The first Duane Reade, on Broadwaybetween Duane and Reade Streets in TriBeCa, and New London Pharmacy both opened their doors in 1960. The cozy aisles of the New London Pharmacy are lined with everything from Melissa & Doug® toys, SPANX® undergarments, Deborah Lippmann nail polish, and Belgian Eggwhite Soap. There is a thorough selection of first aid bandages and braces, as well as high-end sleep masks, cosmetic bags, and tweezing tools. New London was named after the famous London Terrace apartments, which occupy the entire block between W. 23rd and W. 24th Streets. This pharmacy offers corporate discounts, as well as discounts to the apartment residents, stylists, make-up artists and senior citizens.

Upper East Side
969 Madison Ave
Est. 1950
There's no shortage of bows at Zitomer.
I first encountered Zitomer on my way to LadurĂ©e. A lovely doorman opened the heavy gold-framed door for me, and I entered this rather large store bursting with the color pink, neon lights, and bright glass cases of department store cosmetics and makeup. Straight from the 1980s, mannequins donned winter headbands. 

Zitomer sells everything from jewelry, lingerie, LEGO products, Dr. Seuss books, Grether’s Pastilles, to fashion tape. If you’re just running in for one thing, expect to spend an hour buying products you never knew you needed! The assortment of shower caps, bows, and scrunchies make this a fun experience for all ages.

Tempted to take home everything including a kitchen sink from my apothecary excursion, I settled for a new shower curtain this time around, but will return to these classic pharmacies for impulse purchases sometime soon.

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