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The Humble Newsstand, Reimagined

The souped-up storefront elevates subway retail with an inventory of essential and unexpected wares.

At the newsstands in New York City’s subway, shoppers can pick up broadsheets, tabloids, snacks, and sundries. More or less, all of the kiosks repeat the same format—you can predict exactly what’s on offer, and it hasn’t changed in decades. The founders of the New Stand thought, why was retail in the subway remained stagnant when it has accelerated pretty much everywhere else? Their sleek storefront in Union Square and a kiosk in Brookfield Place aim to shake up the status quo through a rotating inventory of unexpected goods, design wares, and everyday items.

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Creative heavyweights and entrepreneurs Andrew Deitchman, George Alan, Lex Kendall, and David Carson banded together to create The New Stand. Their hope is that the shops become an exciting part of someone’s commute. In addition to a brick-and-mortar presence, The New Stand also exists as an app that features playlists, news stories, and promotions from partner brands and media companies. Moreover, users can add money to an account via the app and pay for purchases that way.

“Newsstands were once spaces where you discovered the world,” Alan says. “More and more the world is in our pocket. For us, it’s about connecting with people during their daily routine and adding discovery during their travels.” Carson adds, “We call ourselves a day-improvement company.”

Some of the items for sale include the requisite candy bars, bottled water, and toothbrushes, but also home decor objects and electronics. The founders’ current favorites include matcha-flavored Kit Kats, Master and Dynamic headphones, Lawless jerky, and a hoverboard.

“We’re looking for new: new designs, new stories, things that might capture your imagination—we’re not here to show you brands you already know about,” Deichtman says of the merchandise and content New Stand offers. While it partner with big companies, like eBay, New Stands equally tries to find products from up and comers.

One such example is the firm The New Stand collaborated with on the retail spaces’ physical design, the Brooklyn studio UM Project. Founder François Chambard took the New Stand’s preliminary renderings, designed the final forms, and fabricated the reconfigurable magnetic display shelves, Corian cabinets, and marble counters that make up the modular stores. While Chambard compares the Union Square concept to a sliding block puzzle, he calls the Brookfield kiosk a “retail space station.”

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“We thought about how quickly retail and media are changing,” Deitchman says. “More and more retail companies are trying to be media companies and vice versa. All of these things are in flux now and we wanted to design a space that would allow us to change, morph, and grow easily. The space should be able to update as frequently as an app can.”

While The New Stand exemplifies the buzzy trend of contextualized commerce, it seeks to accomplish that without losing sight of what people need and want on a daily basis. “To the extent were representing the leading edge of where retail is going, we’re also looking backward to just providing a service to people everyday,” Deitchman says.

Correction: This version has been updated with clarification on The New Stand and UM Project’s collaboration on the retail store designs. The New Stand developed the overall concept and vision, while UM Project developed and executed the physical designs of the two different stores.

About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.

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