Williamsburg, NY – When Duane Reade opened a new store a few months ago in Brooklyn, it faced opposition from residents loyal to a local pharmacy. So it decided to include something in the store that the neighborhood did not have: a bar that specializes in beer.
One corner of the Duane Reade store on Bedford Avenue in the Williamsburg neighborhood has Fire Island Lighthouse Ale and eight other beers on tap, with growlers – refillable glass bottles – lining the walls. Uniformed clerks-cum-beer-experts fill the growlers and conduct tastings only – sorry, no pints served. Behind a bar, a large walk-in refrigerator stocks common national brands as well as local, craft and imported beers. “We knew we would have a little bit of a battle to try to bring Duane Reade into this community, because they really don’t like a chain store,” said Paul Tiberio, senior vice president for merchandising and marketing at the company.
Duane Reade was bought by Walgreens of Deerfield, Ill., for about $1.1 billion last spring. While its previous owner, Oak Hill Capital Partners, had begun sprucing up its 250 stores by widening aisles, adding natural light and emphasizing the chain’s New York roots in advertisements, the offerings were mostly standard from store to store.