Newark Newsstand closes after 75 years
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 20:02
Students and community members alike remember the Newark Newsstand, a Main Street fixture for over 75 years, which closed its doors for good in January.
The Newsstand was a small store sandwiched between the only older store on Main Street, the National 5 & 10, and Indian Sizzler Restaurant. It sold over 5,000 magazines and had a wide selection of newspapers, as well as various tobacco products and light snacks.
Bacchu Patel and his family were the most recent of four sets of owners throughout the Newsstand’s existence. He said he has heard from some upset former customers who are having a hard time finding the titles once offered by the Newsstand.
He said big stores like Borders would refer customers to him when they were looking for a magazine not carried by the larger chain stores. The Newsstand carried hunting magazines, business magazines, fashion magazines and almost every other kind of publication available, Patel said.
“We were the biggest magazine store in the state of Delaware,” Patel said. “We specialized in every magazine in every sector.”
Patel said he saw a lot of students who would come in looking for things related to their coursework, like fashion students coming in to find issues of Nylon and other fashion publications.
Mayor Vance A. Funk III said he began going to the store in 1959 and has bought a lot of newspapers and magazines there throughout the years.
“That was the place where you went and bought blue books for exams,” Funk said. “They had the best prices on them.”
Junior Christopher Moukarzel went to the shop to buy Benson & Hedges cigarettes, a rare brand in the United States. Moukarzel said he remembers the kindness of the owners and he does not think there will be another type of store that can satisfy the needs of Newark like the Newsstand did.
“I remember the nice lady offering me coffee that she did not want on a particularly cold morning,” Moukarzel said. “That kind of generosity is rare in the retail world these days.”
Funk also said he remembers the caring ways of the owners and thinks that is what made the store really special. The mayor picks up trash every Sunday morning on Main Street and recalled that the owner would bring him bottles of water on hot days, Funk said.
Patel said he did not think the opening of the larger Barnes & Noble across the street slowed business. Funk said the Newsstand opened much earlier in the day than the bookstore.
“People who like to read papers don’t like to wait until 10 a.m.,” Funk said.
Patel said lost business to Internet sales was a big factor in the store’s closing. The Newsstand used to sell 300 issues of The New York Times a day, and were recently selling just 30 issues, he said.
He said everyone can get news online now. The shop also used to sell a lot of maps and atlases, but Patel said he noticed a decline in their popularity as many cars and phones are now GPS enabled.
While walking around town, Funk said he has noticed that the number of papers bundled outside waiting to be picked up in the mornings has significantly decreased. He said many other newsstands have failed recently.
“It’s just the way the world is changing, people don’t buy magazines and newspapers like they used to,” he said.
Funk said he doesn’t think the owners will have any trouble filling the empty store, especially because most people who approach him to rent retail space are looking for smaller storefronts. The space is currently being renovated and Patel said that the retail store “Clothes in the Past Lane” is interested in relocating to the spot where the Newsstand used to be.
Senior Michael Schmitt said he visited the store a few times and thinks it’s closing will take away a piece of the character and landscape of Newark.
“It wasn’t commercialized,” Schmitt said. “The Newsstand was part of that character and by shutting it down we’re losing a bit of what made Newark Newark.”