Walgreens: We’ll sell greens

Windsor wages Walgreens war
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 [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.