In a neighborhood where beloved institutions are shuttering daily and the entire borough threatens to become one big fro-yo emporium, Block Drug Stores is a rare outlier. One of the few independent drug stores still around, having served East Villagers since 1885, this old-timer is not just surviving — it’s expanding.
Last week, Block opened an adjacent eye-care outlet, Block’s Vision Care, that will provide eye exams and fill prescriptions, as well as selling a range of glasses and sunglasses in brands like Prada and Armani. Who said Block wasn’t hip with the kids, yo?
Carmine Palermo, Sr. bought into Block in 1962. His son, Carmine, Jr., now owns the place with his wife Beth, who went back to school to become an optician in preparation for the new venture. “We saw the need in the neighborhood,” she explained. “One of the optical places had closed down recently so we figure that people need something to come to.”
Asked about Block’s staying power, she said, “I hope it’s a good trend that we’re starting something and everyone else follows.”