Business of the Month — Casa Magazines, 22 Eighth Avenue
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The corner newspaper stand and candy store used to be ubiquitous. Now with all the chain stores and the decline of print media, it’s often a challenge to even find one in some parts of the city. That is why the sharply corned building at the corner of West 12th Street and 8th Avenue is so special. It is the home of Casa Magazines, owned by Mohammed Ahmed, dubbed the”Last King of Print” by the New York Times. Opened in 1995, this small but vibrant news store not only features an unparalleled selection of magazines from around the world, but also has a wonderful community vibe. In this time of diminishing print, the store has remained a local fixture, and is our September Business of the Month.
It is small and cramped with over 3,000 magazines stacked all the way to the ceiling. The best sellers are lain flat on the lower ledges, while a broad array of quotidian and esoteric titles from all over the world are displayed on racks and shelves packed to the ceiling. But Mohammed and his staff know where every single title is. And if they do not carry it, which would be a surprise, Mohammed is glad to order it for you or even ship it. The daily tabloids and international papers are also on hand, along with gum, and batteries, and other daily basics.
Mr. Ahmed has been there for over 22 years, and is still in business despite the rise of the internet and the prevalence of online reading. He says professionals in the arts, fashion and architecture particularly tend to want a real paper copy of things, and these customers constitute the foundation of his business. And for many of his customers, the feeling of a rolled up copy of the New Yorker at the beach or on the train still can’t be match by a Kindle.
Times have changed around Casa Magazines; the card shop across the street that was replaced by The Sport Gallery, which itself is also now closed, will not be coming back. Mohammed remembers when people wrote so many letters and cards that the mailbox out front was always filled, and they had to demand a second mailbox be installed. Now only a fraction of either is ever filled.
Syedkhalidwasin (who also goes by Ali), who works there, says they treat people like family, and not as mere customers. He said Greenwich Village is the best place to work; it is like an old country place. Famous thespians and the top writers and artists all live around here. But when they come in and walk around, they don’t do so like stars, but like “normal people.” Umais, who works behind the counter, is a student from Karachi now studying business at Brooklyn College. He observed that the shop has niche items and titles you can’t even find online, so some buy up their stock and sell it on ebay themselves! He also appreciates speaking to and asking questions of writers who have published articles in the magazines in the shop.
The tiny triangle of a shop gets packed with locals and visitors from other boroughs and countries alike. People on their way home from school or work, or after visiting the Highline or the Whitney, come and stop by, and some New Yorkers make a point of trekking here to pick-up what they can’t find in their own neighborhoods.
According to local Allison M on Yelp “I ADORE this store. It’s run by the sweetest, most friendly guys in the world. They know everyone in the neighborhood and it’s so fun to pop in and see who’s hanging around. It’s like a real old-time neighborhood place where everyone knows your name. (My young son loves to visit “his friends” there in the morning on the way to school.) They have every magazine you can think of all crammed into this funky little space. Great newspaper and candy selection too!”
So stop by Casa Magazines for a real New York experience. Even if you have a digital subscription to your favorite publications, you might find a whole new publication to enjoy at our September Business of the Month.
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc
And here is a handy map of all of our Businesses of the Month: