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Windsor Terrace Vows to 'Declare Independence' from Walgreens with Boycott

Windsor Terrace residents say they'll boycott Walgreens when it opens and replaces Key Food, the neighborhood's only grocery store.
Windsor Terrace residents say they'll boycott Walgreens when it opens and replaces Key Food, the neighborhood's only grocery store.
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Windsor Terrace Alliance

WINDSOR TERRACE — Windsor Terrace residents say they'll celebrate the Fourth of July by declaring independence from a Walgreens drugstore that's slated to replace the neighborhood's only supermarket.

Locals are signing pledges to boycott the new Walgreens, which will replace a Key Food on Prospect Avenue between 10th and 11th avenues, and they're plotting an online attack as well.

Walgreens, which is leasing the building, is expected to take over the space in August, renovate it, and then open a store there in early 2013.

"Declare your independence from a Windsor Terrace Walgreens! Call, email or overrun Walgreens' Facebook page to let them know we need a grocery store, not a Walgreens," wrote Ryan Lynch, a Windsor Terrace resident, in an email to neighbors.

Lynch and other community organizers have asked residents to personally email Walgreens CEO Gregory D. Wasson to ask that Walgreens either share the building with a full-service grocery store or drop its plans to open in Windsor Terrace altogether.

Windsor Terrace residents have also taken their message to the streets. Roughly 200 locals rallied in front of the closed Key Food last week to demand that a supermarket, not a drugstore, move into the space. Some carried signs with politically-charged slogans like, "The American Dream Includes a Grocery Store," and "Support the Occupation of Walgreens, We Are the 99 Percent."

Windsor Terrace residents say they won't be shopping at the national drugstore chain, which purchased ubiquitous New York pharmacy Duane Reade in 2010 for a reported $1.1 billion. They're pledging to boycott the store because they say Walgreens hasn't responded to suggestions that the drugstore make room in the building for a grocery store.

"We continue to work with the community and respond to the needs of area residents. We plan to look at what we can offer in terms of fresh food at this location," said Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger in an email to DNAinfo.com New York.

But Walgreens' fresh food offerings wouldn't include "meats, fish, a bakery, or many other items that Windsor Terrace residents need from a grocery store," according to a flier circulated at Thursday's rally, organized by the Windsor Terrace Alliance.

"Walgreens proposed an expanded store which would include fresh food, but that's not a supermarket. That is in no way a substitute for what the community has lost," said Ann Schaetzel, legislative aide to Assemblyman Jim Brennan, whose office is collecting the boycott pledges from locals.

Other elected officials have joined the fight as well. Brennan, City Councilman Brad Lander and Borough President Marty Markowitz spoke at last week's rally.

Markowitz said he was "outraged" that a drugstore was replacing the grocery store. He noted that "Walgreens is permitted to do business as long as they abide by the zoning rules and the residents of Windsor Terrace have a right to decide where they shop and where they won't shop."

Windsor Terrace residents will hold their next meeting about Walgreens replacing Key Food on Mon. July 9 at 7 p.m. in the basement of Holy Name of Jesus Church, 245 Prospect Park West.