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Luxe First Ave. Pharmacy Caters to People and Pets

By Amy Zimmer | November 10, 2011 6:29am
Owner Alex Zeygeril and pharmacist Julia Sarukhanova said they will be offering personalized attention at City Drugs, slated to open Nov. 16.
Owner Alex Zeygeril and pharmacist Julia Sarukhanova said they will be offering personalized attention at City Drugs, slated to open Nov. 16.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

UPPER EAST SIDE —  It's nothing like a Duane Reade or Rite Aid.

City Drugs envisions itself instead as a boutique pharmacy of the future, and when it opens in a sleek white modern space at 1273 First Ave. next Wednesday, it will cater to health conscious New Yorkers — and their pets.

The store is the brainchild of Alex Zeygeril, who is opening up what he hopes to be the first of many high-end City Drugs shops in Manhattan.  

This 1,600-square-foot space on First Avenue, between East 68th and 69th streets, is the testing ground for the store's concept, which includes an in-house pharmacist and nutritionist providing custom-tailored recommendations, working in consultation with a patient's doctor and cross-checking every drug and supplement for possible conflicts. 

"It's a unique place," Zeygeril said. "It's taking things to a different level."

The shop will offer some pampering with mini-facials and sell exclusive beauty products, like Ingrid Millet and Caudlalie, alongside high-end grooming products for furry friends and human-grade whole-food supplements for cats and dogs.

"It's an upscale area surrounded by hospitals and residential buildings," Zeygeril said of his decision to move to the area.  

Julia Sarukhanova, the shop's pharmacist, added: "All the pharmacy boutiques are on Madison Avenue. So, we're bringing luxury to First Avenue."

Sarukhanova, who said she had expertise in infectious diseases, oncology, fertility and rheumatology, described the shop as a one-stop for health and beauty, where shelves will be stocked with products one would find at a store like Sephora as well as a health store.

There will be, for instances, a focus on sulfite-free shampoos, paraben-free lotions and natural anti-aging cosmetic products.

Zeygeril, who has been in the pharmacy business for more than a decade, said that things have changed tremendously since he started.

Many drug stores have been turning their attention toward supplements and over-the-counter medicines as managed care has turned more customers onto mail-order medications, he and Sarukhanova said.

"They're taking away business from local pharmacies," Sarukhanova said. "So, we're losing a lot. … But at least can provide personal care."

City Drugs prides itself on not being a chain store and on not treating its customers "like just another number," said Sarukhanova, who noted that the shop plans to participate in Small Business Saturday, a national event on Nov. 26 designed to celebrate and bolster sales at local, independently-owned small businesses.

It was Sarukhanova's idea to add the pet care component to the shop.

The proud owner of a Yorkie thought it only made sense that pet owners who made natural health products a priority for themselves would want the same for their four-legged companions, who may also be burdened with digestive orders or joint pain. 

"The shampoo I've used on my dog has chamomile and lavender," Sarukhanova said. "It really calms them down."

Zeygeril hopes to open at least five more City Drugs after launching this shop. He was mum on the potential locations.

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