I’m big into health and beauty products. I love trying new shampoos, makeup, bath gels, all that stuff at the drugstore. I even like to go to drugstores in foreign countries to check out the toiletries you can’t find in the States.
Drugstores are usually regulated to chain store status here in Northern California. There’s not much difference between a Rite-Aid, Longs, or Walgreens. But in Manhattan, I could easily spend a day visiting a few places that totally debunk that model.
Zitomer (and it’s sister store Z Chemists), for example, carry all of the typical stuff like toothpaste and tissue paper. But they also have cosmetic brands that aren’t usually found in a drugstore like Roger & Gallet, L’Occitane, and Caswell Massey. They also carry accessories like bags and purses by Vera Bradley, trendy hair accessories, Halloween costumes and wigs, eclectic perfumes, and all sorts of bath products that you can only find at high end department stores here in the Bay Area (brands like Molton Brown, Kneipp, Cyclic, and Bliss). It’s like Sephora, Neimans’ cosmetics department, and a Longs all rolled into one.
Flickr photo courtesy of “ddc95”
And then there’s C.O. Bigelow. A visit to this store is like a step back in time. Established in 1938, the store labels itself as the oldest apothecary in America, and it certainly looks it. But that’s part of its charm.
Inside, they carry brands of toothpaste, facial care products, and perfumes that I thought I could only get in Europe (Apivita, Marvis, Skyn Iceland), making their selection particularly fun to browse. They also carry their own store brand of health and beauty products, some of which can also be found at Bath and Body Works stores nationwide. They have so much merchandise, so many foreign brands I’ve never heard of, and products I thought were discontinued. It’s like a Rite Aid from 50 years ago with a little Bath and Body Works thrown in.
I can’t leave any of these stores empty handed. Go ahead, I dare you not to buy anything.
Sadly, like a big slice of Brooklyn pizza, these upscale pharmacies are yet another thing you can only find in New York.
Would it kill someone to open an eclectic store like this in Northern California?…
Zitomer – 969 Madison Ave. (Upper East Side) – NYC – 888.219.2888
Z Chemists – 40 West 57th St. – NYC – 212.956.6000
C.O. Bigelow Chemists – 414 Avenue of the Americas (West Village) – NYC – 212.533.2700