Blockbuster! Block Drug Stores Opening Vision Shop Next Door

IMAG0746Samantha Balaban

After 128 years Block Drug Stores will finally get a much-younger sibling when Block Vision Care opens right next door. Carmine Palermo says he expects to open in the former Jack’s Luxury Oyster space by mid-April.

Mr. Palermo’s father, Carmine Palermo, Sr., purchased the iconic drug store in 1962. Mr. Palermo began working at the shop in 1975 and eventually bought it from his father in 1994. When Jack’s closed last year, Mr. Palermo decided to sign a lease at 101 Second Avenue and expand his beloved neighborhood business horizontally.

IMAG0743Mr. Palermo

It was Mr. Palermo’s wife, Beth, who first came up with the idea to open a vision care store and then volunteered to go back to school to become an optician. She is currently learning how to hand-cut eyeglass lenses. “You gotta understand the business,” he said.

According to Mr. Palermo, the new store will have an exam room with state-of-the-art equipment and a complete eyeglasses shop (look out, Warby Parker Readery). Friends and neighbors have already begun suggesting their favorite brands.

For the eye exams, Mr. Palermo will hire an optometrist to work a few days a week. The pharmacy will also be able to fill contact lens prescriptions.

The Palermo family business may be expanding, but the quality of the service will stay the same. “Everyone’s an individual,” Mr. Palermo said. “We will do our best to accommodate everybody.”