Duane Reade may be a soulless corporate chain, but its our corporate chain, forged right here in 1960 at a warehouse between its eponymous Tribeca streets. But despite (or because of?) its ubiquity—253 locations in NYC and counting—Duane Reade is deeply in debt, and last week its corporate parent, private-equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, shelled out $125 million to save Duane Reade from defaulting on its debt.
That bailout comes on top of a $50 million investment for remodeling, which Duane Reade CEO John Lederer promises will turn the beat around: "New Yorkers deserve a break and not to be squeezed in a store with little aisles. Our brand has not been reimaged [sic] in 10 years." (Didn't they just "reimage" the logo?)
So far, 20 locations have been remodeled, and 100 more will be rebooted by the end of next year. But it's unclear whether Oak Hill will spend any money to get some more employees behind the cash registers so customers don't have to waste the best years of their lives standing on line just to buy a toothbrush. It's also unclear if any of these millions of dollars will make a damn bit of difference, what with fierce competition from CVS (110 NYC stores and counting) and Walgreen (50 NYC locations). A source tells the Post, "Oak Hill needs to protect its investment or [Duane Reade will] die. I don't think anybody is going to figure out how to turn it around."