Say what you will about the ubiquitous Duane Reade drug store chain. (And I've said plenty of the years, little of it complimentary.) It was New York's pharmacy chain—born here, grew here, dominated here. It was soulless, yes. The clerks were horrible. There were too many stores. They killed mom and pop pharmacies. But it had a more Gotham-y aura that Rite Aid or CVS. It was eccentric, taking up residence anywhere it could, in former movie theaters and ballrooms. It seemed scruffier and scrappier. And it was named for two Manhattan streets.
Now, Duane Reade won't belong to New York anymore. It's been sold to Walgreen's, which has over 7,000 stores (DR has 229) and was founded in Chicago and is based in Dearfield, Illinois. Price tag: $618 million. There, above, are the two suits who made the deal. One's the head of Duane Reade, the other of Walgreen's. Doesn't really matter which is which. Basically the same guy, right?
What will happen now? Will we really notice if Duane Reades become more Walgreen's-like? Probably not. We will notice, however, if Walgreen's chooses to retire the whole Duane Reade name, and close many of its branches, which they apparently intend to do. It's all about getting bigger, folks. Bigger and bigger until you can't get any bigger, and you inevitably get smaller, or go bankrupt, or get gobbled up by another fish determined to get bigger than you. Capitalism's like building castles in the sand. You can created a beautiful sand castle, one people love, one that wins contests, but there's always some bully waiting to kick it down, just because he can, and never imagining there's bigger bully somewhere who will kick down his castle.