Posted in Shopping, Travel

Only in New York

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.

zit-fall-ad1.jpg Courtesy of Zitomer

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.

C.O. Bigelow Chemists, Zitomer, and Z Chemists are three upscale pharmacies that I visit everytime I’m in New York City.

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


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3 thoughts on “Only in New York

  1. …and I thought I was the only one who loved visiting foreign drugstores!

    My oddest finds were in Thailand, where all their beauty products contain skin whitening ingredients. I’m very pale and would love to have enough melanin to tan instead of burn, so it seemed really weird to me.

  2. In Asian countries, it is the opposite than in the States or European countries, where we like to look tanned or bronzed or “sun-kissed.” In Asian countries, it is the look of wealth, health, and the upper class to look “porcelain white,” which is why you see a bevy of whitening products in Asian countries.

  3. These stores sound so interesting! I love checking out the foreign pharmacies, but there aren’t too many of them in my area. I love looking at foreign products, and trying out some of them.

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