Manny Ramirez gives back by letting community groups use his pharmacy’s basement for free, reports Jim Dwyer in The New York Times (2/21/14). A theatre company uses the space to hold auditions, poetry societies and book clubs meet there. There’s a toy swap happening and a "family oxygen support group." "Mondays, we have an Artists Anonymous meeting," says Manny. "They talk about the problems that stop them from producing." The "Inwood Jews meet there on Thursday nights to study scripture."
Upstairs, Manny runs a drugstore, Dichter Pharmacy, that "has become a salon and nosh stop and gift store, filled with lotions and potions aimed at the new tide of more-affluent people living in Inwood. It carries toys for toddlers" and features "old fashioned soda spigots and an ice-cream chest." Dichters has been around for 90 years, although this is its third location. The original place burned down a couple of years ago, but was so beloved that neighbors rallied around and helped it re-open within just two weeks.
"Friends from the neighborhood hit Home Depot and built the space out for me," says Manny. "The community paid for the awning." Manny himself worked at Dichter’s as a teen, leaving after completing pharmacy school and returning to buy the place after its previous owner died. He has since moved to a larger location, and the community basement is not only a nice ‘thank you’ to his neighbors as well as a great way to stay connected. "We don’t have Wi-Fi here," says Manny. "The goal here is interaction. Not staring into a computer."