An Active Player

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Monte Carlo 1991, Gary behind the pharmacy counter instead of the roulette table

Since my early childhood I’ve had sort of a “Main Street, U.S.A.” view of American retail. But is that all that bad?

I remember working as a delivery stock boy at Mason’s Drugs on Queens Blvd, and admiring how the local drugstore was such a central part of it’s community. When my wife Jolie, who has deep retail roots with three generations of in the luggage business right here in Manhattan, took off on our honeymoon  to Europe we spent time getting to know communities. We realized that the “Main Street, U.S.A.” feeling we were looking for was alive and well all over Europe.

Thompson Street
Gary and Jolie Alony, who opened Thompson Chemists 25 years ago. Credit: Adam Friedberg

The feeling that small retail shops were an essential part of the community could not have been more validated. Bakers, druggists, waiters, and salon workers all had great pride in their work and great respect from the community around them. Well that was it for me, as soon as I got back home I began working hard to look for a community that I could call my own. Luckily it didn’t take long and 18 years later Thompson Chemists has become a central part of the Soho, NYC community.

Main Street USA

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