NEW YORK – At a drugstore at the northern tip of Manhattan, feeling better might call for both medicine and a milkshake.
An Inwood neighborhood staple for over a century, Dichter Pharmacy includes an old-fashioned soda fountain.
With counter seats and room to roam, owner and pharmacist Manny Ramirez aims to cultivate a community hub.
“This place is for everybody,” he said.
He first took a job at the pharmacy during high school in the ’80s. Back then, his duties included sweeping floors and stocking shelves.
“Life has a strange way of looping back around,” he said. “I ended up purchasing the store.”
These days, he offers remedies, advice, and space for gathering. Poetry readings, mom meetups, and classical concerts have all taken place among the aisles of pain relievers and shampoo.
Behind the counter, Manny is both a source of advice and a listening ear.
“This pandemic has been a huge contributing factor to the importance of pharmacists, just to give comfort out there,” he said.
He aims to treat customers with compassion.
“You’ve got to put on your happy face,” he said. “Someone is in need, and you have to realize that.”
After a devastating fire in 2012, Manny rebuilt his livelihood in a new location with the help of his community.
“Thirty or 40 people helped put up the shelves, merchandise, paint, all for free,” he said.
He is grateful for his connection to the neighborhood that raised him.
“It’s touching, and it’s grounding. What’s special about it is that I belong,” he said.
New York, NY 10034