Aug. 1, 2012 - What happens when a giant drug chain with revenues of over $72 billion takes on the residents of aBrooklynneighborhood? On Tuesday, the day that Walgreens took legal possession of the site of a closed Key Foods branch, over 150 Windsor Terrace neighbors rallied over the lack of a full-service grocery in their community. The residents of this quiet middle-class community, nestled between Prospect Park Southwest and the Green-Wood Cemetery, “are not the first to the barricades” said State Senator Brad Lander,” but when the food that people need is threatened, they will stand together to the end.”
Ryan Lynch, an organizer of the rally and press conference, warned Walgreens that “we’ll be here on the first day you open but we WON’T be inside.” Their coalition, after several unproductive meetings with corporate management, had collected over 3000 signed pledges from residents committed to a boycott of the drug chain. According to the lastU.S.census, these represent roughly one-third of the households in Windsor Terrace “which is amazing” Lynch said. Rally participants reflected the diverse community, including teens and seniors, mothers with children (and their dogs.) Assemblyman Jim Brennan, whose office has assisted the Windsor Terrace Alliance in mobilizing the community, called the situation “a tale of corporate greed and business insensitivity,” but said that if the community stood together to boycott the company “I believe we will demonstrate that they will lose money.” Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said the giant drug chain “can have it all if they respond to your reasonable requests.” But he observed that other mom-and-pop stores inBrooklynwere finding it impossible to compete with big banks and giant for leased space.
Residents plan to continue collecting pledges to boycott Walgreens and its subsidiaries, which include Duane Reade. They are also distributing flyers calling on shoppers to “Do the Walgreens Walkout” if they find themselves in one by force of habit, redirecting them to local, family-owned pharmacies like Ballard orOak Parkon Prospect Park West.
The event was covered by news teams from NY1, Fox 5 News and other media, while “L” Magazine’s latest issue described it as “the best grassroots neighborhood movement”
For further information about how to support the Windsor Terrace community, including their fact sheet “Fresh Facts about Walgreens”, contact www.greenbeansnotwalgreens.org.
Written by Steven Beck