Old-School Manhattan

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"We sanded it years back," said Frank Cammarata, of Goodrich Pharmacy's plain, wooden-plank floor, "but people like it this way."

He smiled and added, "As I get older, I prefer a more natural state."

You can't get more natural than the classic wooden cabinetry and fixtures that distinguish Goodrich from its glass-and-glitz chain competitors. Indeed, its vintage appointments have been moved to each of the indie pharmacy's various locations over the decades. Established in 1974, Goodrich had two prior locales in the nabe before settling into its current, modestly sized digs at 104 W. 70th St. in 1980.

Then, as now, Cammarata, a genial sort who's happy to share his long-term perspective of the retail scene, is both pharmacist and proprietor. His shop is a fascinating, small but well-edited mix of modern wares and old-school goods and amenities. Hence, you can find Fructis shampoo, Rogaine hair-loss treatment and Crest 3-D White toothpaste alongside such less cutting-edge-contemporary (and sometimes hard-to-find) potions as Vitalis and Three Flowers Brilliantine hair dressings for men. (Though everything old is new again, of course: I just came across an article about how to get Mad Men hair that cites the latter grooming aid.)

Prices here are more reflective of the old-school merch than the more modern ones. Know where to get gum for 35 cents? Pick up your pack of Doublemint here for exactly that. Got two quarters on you? You can walk out with a pocket-sized pack of Kleenex. How about a nickel? Hop aboard the Loboy.

What's a Loboy? Its full nomenclature will reveal it function: The Loboy Personal Weight scale. Yes, it's one of those old-time, tall drugstore scales that you may have thought had disappeared-but here 'tis at Goodrich, where some folks actually come in just to weigh themselves, sometimes several times a day. Who would do that? I dunno, a supermodel who just ate a lentil for lunch and is too panicked to make it to her own bathroom scale? Just guessing?

Interestingly, the modest dimensions of the Loboy's platform and general stature are historically educational in itself, reminding us that decades ago, people were indeed smaller.

Another amenity, this a much more recent addition: The water cooler stocked with Nestle Pure Life H2O. Frank-sorry, it's impossible to call him Cammarata-says he added the cooler as a convenience for those who fill prescriptions and want or need to down pills right away. But please, help yourself; no charge, of course. I asked Frank about the two spigots on the cooler-one for hot and one for cold, I guessed-but he joked about filling one with wine. Um, I think he was joking?

Moving along now. Representative of the unique mix of the modern and the time-honored are the Boiron homeopathic products, especially popular with European visitors (if people can come here from Europe, it shouldn't be a hardship to cross nabes to visit, if need be-just sayin'.) While resurgently popular, the concept of homeopathic palliatives has deep historical and cultural roots.

Also going way back-these in the British tradition-are the handmade-in-England tortoiseshell Kent combs. Available in a wide variety of styles for all your hair-related grooming needs, these average a wee $8 per.

So come, sip, step on a scale, scope out some old favorites and savor the village-square warmth and personal attention. In short, get unchained!

-Laura Shanahan

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