How Duane Reade Knew My Housing History Better Than I Did

Do you ever get freaked out by how much machines know about us? Like when online stores know that you’ve “forgotten” something in your cart. Or chrome auto-fills a web form with your name, address, phone number, credit card, mother’s maiden name, and what you ate for lunch.  A friend told me recently that the new iPhone send facial recognition to transfer money from her bank account into one of her apps—without her even instructing it to.

And today, the credit card machine at Duane Reade knew my address from four years ago better than I did.

Like most New Yorkers, I shop at Duane Reade compulsively for everything from tissues to canned soup. The one underneath my office has served as an ER when I had a sudden wave of nausea and needed to immediately buy a thermometer to check my temperature (spoiler: it was normal). It also saved me from dealing with Herald Square crowds that time I ripped my tights and needed new ones without having to navigate the 34th street Macy’s. And with all this frequent shopping, I somehow have only mustered up $3 in “Duane Reade points” over the past four years.

Duane Reade, I’m calling BS on your points system.

7625014f0a3f8c87a9b66ce310d5d00aIf you’re a New Yorker you have a love/hate relationship with Duane Reade

But who am I to turn down free money? So, when the cashier asked me to enter my zip code to redeem my $3 of DR points, I willingly punched it into the key pad.


“Do you have another zip code you want to try?” the cashier asked.

I punched in a new set of five numbers.



Maybe it was the Murray Hill apartment? I punched in five more numbers.


Or maybe the Lower East Side one? Five new numbers.


“Sorry, that’s the max number of tries you can enter.”

Four wrong zip codes later and I was locked out of my own Duane Reade account. Had I really lived that many places in New York? I moved to the city just four years ago and have since lived in five different apartments.

I’ve been with the same boyfriend and same job for four years. I’m still friends with people I met when I was three, and I refuse to throw away my Gilmore Girls DVD box set even though I know it’s all on Netflix. I’m a fairly committed person with everything except for NYC housing.

200w_dMe explaining my Gilmore Girls obsession

But really—it’s not me, it’s them.

In a market where you’re expected to sign a 12-month lease for an apartment that consumes 40% (or more) of your income, and you only get three weeks to find it—how can anyone stay sane? Oh, and you need to put down first, last, security, and a 15% brokers fee. Our expectations are high thanks to TV shows like Friends, and our pockets are shallow thanks to the recession that continues to cripple our economy.

And after living in five different apartments, I still don’t feel like I’ve found my perfect NYC home. My first apartment had no kitchen, the second had no windows, the third one had no closets, and the fourth had no right angles (it was more of a quadrilateral). The fifth one has proven to be adequate, but has more pink in the bathroom than Barbie’s dream home.

UntitledActual inspiration for my apartment decor

If machines keep getting smarter, why does it feel like the housing game keeps getting harder? Shouldn’t we figure out how to find a decent apartment with reasonable upfront costs before we figure out how to make robots play soccer? It seems so simple, why does it feel so hard?

Enter: Bedly, the NYC housing startup that’s trying to make things a little easier. At Bedly we get that upfront costs can be hard to throw down, especially if you’re new to the city or a new graduate. And we know that your first apartment might not be your last apartment—so we offer flexible month-to-month lease cycles. If it ends up working out in your new pad, that’s great (I’ll silently envy you from afar). But if you’re craving a new neighborhood, space, or roommate, Bedly makes it easy to transfer to a new apartment.

After five moves, all to walk-up apartments (and one on the fifth floor) I know that moving is the worst. But rest easy knowing your new Bedly apartment comes fully furnished so you don’t have to take the ferry to the Brooklyn IKEA then spend a fortune on an Uber XL home. Because let’s be honest, we all buy way more at IKEA than we ever mean to anyways.

Some technology can be scary—like when the NYC sidewalks were littered with hoverboards. But some technology actually makes our lives easier in a very necessary way. Maybe Duane Reade knows my zip code from four years ago better than I do, but Bedly is there to help me find my next one.


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