Snapshot: Last Newsstand in BP Remains on 13th Ave and 49th St
By David J. Glenn
Remember newsstands? You know, those rectangular wooden enclosures staffed by an individual selling everything from newspapers and magazines to chewing gum.
They used to dot the sidewalks all over the borough, but in the last several years as we've entered the digital age, it's been really hard to find one in Brooklyn.
But take heart — there is one in Boro Park, on 13th Avenue at 49th Street.
Muhammed Ali bought the stand nine years ago, and as far as we can tell, it's the only one in this area. (If you find another, please let us know.)
"I saw it as a good way to make a living," Ali said.
He offers the full traditional fare — snacks, candy, bottled water, gum, and of course, newspapers and magazines. He knows what neighborhood he's in as the printed material is in Yiddish or English and is kosher (except for maybe a few copies of the Daily News or The New York Times). No celebrity mags or supermarket tabloids are sold there.
Most of his customers are looking for local news and news from Israel, Ali said.
But as more and more people turn to computer or cell phone screens for information, and even a bag of potato chips can be had online, the corner newsstand may be headed in the direction of rotary dial phones.
"Business is slow," Ali said. "It was that way even before Covid."
Business does pick up, though, when a huge jackpot beckons in Powerball — as it was on Wednesday, Nov. 2. The drawing that night promised a grand prize of no less than $1.2 billion. One customer balked at the $2 price of the ticket, but when another patron pointed out that it was worth it for the chance, however small, to get such a fortune, or even snag a few million with fewer matching numbers, he forked over the $2. "You never know," he said, repeating the slogan of the New York State Lottery
But even without a mega lottery drawing, there are some die-hard newsstand consumers. "It's nice to stop in the hustle and bustle of 13th Avenue and pick up a snack," 60-year-old Yehudah said as he perused Ali's offerings.
How long does Ali expect to keep his throwback business operating? "As long as customers come, we'll be here," he said