Walgreens: We’ll sell greens

Margaret de Cruz wants a grocery store — not a Walgreens — to open in Windsor Terrace. She and more than 100 protesters rallied against the drugstore chain on Wednesday.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Walgreens slated to open in Windsor Terrace will dedicate a “significant” amount of space to fresh produce and meat — a promise that could involve sharing the building with a grocer, company officials say.

The nation’s largest drug store chain — which is replacing the neighborhood’s only grocery store — says it will reserve part of the shop for “fresh fruit, vegetables, and frozen meat” and is considering partnering with a company that sells perishables to do so.

“All options are on the table,” said Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger.

Elfinger said plans for the pharmacy also include a dairy and deli meat selection — but had no specifics about how much square footage the shop will dedicate to fresh food.

The news comes after months of protests from neighbors, who claim the drug store — which is scheduled to replace a Key Food in January — will create a “food desert” in the community unless it provides grocery services or adjusts its lease to make room for a business that will.

Windsor Terrace residents now say the company’s still-vague commitment isn’t exactly prompting celebratory dinner parties, especially because residents have gotten “only stock answers” to letters they sent Walgreens officials.

“We’re looking for something that’s reflective of a full-service grocery store … not a glorified 7-Eleven,” said Windsor Terrace resident Ryan Lynch. “It would be more hopeful if [Walgreens] was working with the community.”

It’s not the first time the pharmacy chain has committed to selling produce in Brooklyn. In 2008, Bay Ridge residents demanded fresh food at a Walgreens that was replacing a Key Food in a now-stale food fight that could shed some light on the current Windsor Terrace battle.

After protests from shoppers, Walgreens agreed to offer fresh produce and meat at the store — but residents now say it never emerged as a true alternative to the grocery store it replaced.

Denise Loli — who four years ago signed a petition along with 1,000 other protestors demanding fresh food at the Third Avenue site — says she won’t buy produce at the Bay Ridge Walgreens, which she claims resembles a Rite Aide with just a few vegetables in stock.

“It’s a place you go to buy milk and eggs,” she said. “But it’s certainly nothing you can rely on as a grocery store.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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