Yes: A drug store is one of the coolest places in New York City, or as they'd have it, an apothecary. C.O. Bigelow Chemists is to your average CVS (or worse: Duane Reade) what a four-star restaurant is to McDonald's, without the four-star price difference, but with the kind of charms and products that can make your own drug store appear basic in every way possible. You can see it from afar—it's the only place on Sixth Avenue marked by a sign advertising DRUGS in giant, red, glowing neon letters. And yes, they do indeed have drugs, as an actual drugstore would: Prescription bottles and small white baggies adorned with their classic cursive script logo.
But it's so much more than a drugstore. If there's any kind of product that might go in your bathroom, they have it. Colognes and candles from all over the world, discerningly picked—there's never too much to choose from, or a lack of options, either. Everything from Japanese toothbrushes to imported Italian shaving cream gets represented, and this is all to say nothing of their over-the-counter medicine sections, too. Their own famous in-house brand is represented, as well, of course: Skin tonics, scents, candles, nearly all of the above. But if you choose to go your own way, chances are, someone in the store could speak to whatever product you're looking at all too well. From the glass counters to carpet and mosaic tile mix, from the signage to the cranky if not well informed pharmacists, C.O. Bigelow really does have something for everyone, and is one of the most perfect present shopping destinations in the city. Moreover, one of the oldest and last independently owned pharmacies in it, as well, a place that stands as perfect proof that while New York City is a disappearing city, always, its longest lasting artifacts are so typically its greatest.—Foster Kamer