The New York Times ran an article today about one of my haunts: “Time for a New Tenant in the Kingdom of Odd.” The subject in question is Fremont News, a great little magazine newsstand that’s half a block from my office. I buy the occasional magazine there, but I must admit that Fremont News mostly provides me with sugar and caffeine—they sell straight-up candy bars and Dr. Pepper, both of which are lacking at the healthier-than-thou PCC nearby.
However, I’m sad the place is leaving mostly because it’s hard to find someplace that stocks such a wide collection of magazines. If your notion of the magazine market is informed by what you see at the supermarket, you’re only viewing a small slice.
The article also touches heavily on the changing feel of Fremont, which has traditionally been a hippie enclave and is now more upscale (and expensive).
“Set your watch back five minutes,” said Brad Beshaw, an assistant manager at the store, explaining why Fremont is slightly behind the times: “Because Fremont’s the center of the universe.”
At the end of next week, however, the universe will contract just a bit and Fremont News, at least, will fall even further behind. On Nov. 18, the store, which has supplied newspapers, magazines, cigarettes and sundries to one of Seattle’s most deliberately distinctive neighborhoods for a decade, is closing for good.
“You have my permission, today only, to punch a nonreader,” Mr. Beshaw told customers who were looking for someone to blame for the store’s declining patronage.
Mr. Beshaw, 38, a scarved, pierced, bearded breeze of idiosyncrasy and good humor who awaits the next issue of The Baffler the way a teenager agitates for an instant message, said the store had suffered for a variety of reasons — including nearby bridge construction that has hurt foot traffic, demographic changes that have made Fremont more expensive and less eccentric, and the same competition from the Internet that has walloped the newspaper industry as a whole.