There are a pair of drugstores in Brooklyn called Silver Rod. The two stores are in about as far flung as two neighborhoods in Brooklyn can be, one in Bensonhurst and another in East Flatbush. They’re the remnants of what once was a fairly large drugstore chain, such as the CVS and Walgreens of today.
Above is the location in Bensonhurst, at 64-04 18th Avenue. Bensonhurst was once one of the Italian-American strongholds in Brooklyn, but has evolved into a Russian and Chinese neighborhood, with some Italians hanging tough. I walked 18th Avenue for FNY over a decade ago, and it bears doing a second walk as it has no doubt much changed since then.
The other surviving Silver Rod Drugs is at 5105 Church Avenue (near East 51st Street) in the heart of African-Caribbean American East Flatbush. Church Avenue is an ancient colonial-era route named for the Reformed Church at Flatbush and Church Avenues, a congregation founded in the 1690s and surrounded by a cemetery with tombstones in the Dutch language.
From the 1940 Municipal Archives comes this photo of Silver Rod Stores at 1504 Avenue J. At the time the branch was billing itself “Silver Rod Stores” but I don’t doubt it was still a pharmacy. To this day, many drugstores have no problem selling cigarettes and cigars.
Where does the name “Silver Rod” come from? This 1937 New York Times article states that at the time 14 stores were closed because of a strike, and I imagine there were more stores than that.
The genesis of the name becomes somewhat clearer thanks to a Commenter, “nycrefugee” who points to an item in geni.com on immigrant Joe Silverstein:
Silver Rod Stores. In 1919, Joe Silverstein incorporated his drugstore at 127 Delancey Street as Silver Rod Stores (Drugstore) along with S. & L. Rodnon (Simon and Louis). Simon and Louis Rodnon were partners in Rodnon Brothers Cigars at 140 Delancey Street, according to R. L. Polk & Co.’s Trow New York Copartnership and Corporation Directory, Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronx for 1919, page 982. When he registered for the World War I Draft in June, 1917, Louis Rodnon wrote that he was from Poltava, Russia; born Aug. 11, 1888, and was the “owner of a cigar store and garage” at 140 Delancey Street, NY.
The incorporation of Silver Rod Stores of 127 Delancey Street was reported in the trade journal Oil, Paint and Drug Reporter, August 1919, p. 53. It was said to involve “drugs, confectionery and tobacco . . . with $60,000 capital” in — Drug & Chemical Markets, Volume 5 (1919). It was written up in the journal of the National Association of Retail Druggists, 1919, as “The organizers of the Silver Rod Stores, Inc., of Manhattan, are meeting with fine success in their venture. Their Delancey street store specializes on drugs, confectionery and tobacco. More stores of the same kind are planned. The owners, Mr. J. Silverstein and S. and L. Rodnon are well known in the New York City drug circles and a prosperous future is predicted for their endeavors in the retail drug line”
Thus it becomes clear that the former chain was named for founders Joe Silverstein and the Rodnon brothers, Simon and Louis.