Mike the Mad Biologist

drug stores, hardware stores, and supermarkets.. By way of ScienceBlogling Dr. Isis, we learn of The Great Brooklyn Tampon Shortage:

You see, in Brooklyn, we have to deal with the problem of tampon scarcity. How, you may be wondering, can a product be scarce when it is a necessity of approximately half the population in any given area? Why wouldn’t a commodity always be readily available when it is something that this large consumer base will never NOT need — barring a Village-of-the-Damned style mass impregnation of women??

…In Brooklyn, there are no Walmart Superstores. No Targets, no K-Marts, no Meijer. Even major pharmacies are rare in the more recently gentrified areas. Where I live, in Williamsburg, the nearest Duane Read (the equivalent of a Rite Aide or Walgreens) is about 15 blocks from my apartment and just opened last month.

So we Brooklyn-dwellers get our necessities via bodegas. For those unfamiliar with the concept, they’re small, abundant corner stores fully-stocked with your typical New York necessities: Beer, snacks, toothbrushes, batteries, toilet paper – you name it. They have everything. EXCEPT TAMPONS.

Ok that’s not completely true. Some of them do have tampons. However, it is a complete crap shoot as to which bodegas they will be stocked in at any given time. And they only have one kind: Generic Tampax with CARDBOARD APPLICATORS. I’m going to go ahead and be graphic here and say that shoving a piece of cardboard up your vag is the opposite of comfortable. I’m pretty sure this brand is the absolute cheapest kind of tampon that Tampax has ever made, yet they are RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. A pack of 20, which won’t even get me halfway through my cycle, is about $7. Furthermore, why someone ever thought a cardboard applicator was a good idea in the first place is FAR beyond me. It had to have been a man’s idea prompted by an attempt to cut costs.

I don’t mean to make light of this: this is an absurd (not to mention unpleasant) situation. But it’s symptomatic of a larger problem, which is that most people, including elected officials, fail to understand that having drug stores, hardware stores, and supermarkets–not little stores, actual markets with high quality food and a reasonable selection–are necessary for living in a city. It’s no accident that the favored neighborhoods in Boston have at least one of each of these stores within reasonable walking distance (often more than one–Back Bay has three supermarkets, two hardware stores, and four drugstores).

Making these stores accessible by foot is all the more important if you want people to avoid using or even owning* cars. Nobody wants to carry groceries for fifteen blocks. At that point, owning a car becomes a serious improvement in quality of life (and if you’re infirm, elderly, or injured, it’s a necessity).

Yet, if you look at what businesses local urban governments choose to support, it’s always sports venues. Never mind that stores would provide ongoing employment (as opposed to seasonal, occasional employment). WE NEEDZ FOOTZBALLS!!! And for the cost of a stadium, we could support a lot of these businesses (and maybe even make hiring some people who live in the local community part of the deal)**.

It might make tampons more accessible too.

Well, not the hardware stores.

*Given the amount of road space every car requires, plus the other associated costs, reducing car ownership when possible, not just use, should be an important goal.

**Of course, one might want to spend the money on schools instead, but, if you’re going to economically support businesses, at least improve the quality of life for a lot of these neighborhoods.

Comments

  1. #1 Erin
    November 12, 2009

    hmm, well, I live in Brooklyn, and I have to say I have never had any trouble locating tampons in either of the two neighborhoods I’ve lived in – there is generally either a drugstore or a grocery store nearby. Groceries are a slightly different story, it can be difficult to carry large amounts more than a few blocks, so I think most people tend to drop by the store as they need one or two items, rather than do big weekly trips. It is probably more difficult for families.