So far, the news stores and stands on Broadway, at Pike Place Market, and other locales have survived the Internet age. But the Fremont News is closing its doors a week from tomorrow. Bill Yardley's piece in the New York Timestoday suggests the store's staff has an idea why the Center of the Universe's news outlet is folding: "You have my permission, today only, to punch a nonreader," assistant manager Ben Beshaw told customers looking for someone to blame.
There are still lots of readers around - they just happen to be doing it for free on the Web, something that's been affecting newsstands such as the Read All About It outlet at the Market at least since 1999. As Seattle newsstand pioneer Steve Dunnington (whose biz partner was Lee Lauckhart) told us then, magazines, not the dailies, were already his big sellers, and, ironically, "Computer and Internet magazines have become one of our biggest selling sections," he said.
Fremont News owner John Hamel, who also operates the Broadway News, says he expected an uphill battle when he bought the store from Dunnington in 2002. "I knew it was a business that was under pressure, just the way the world was changing...I thought I could come and try some new products to mix with it." He went to retail shows for ideas - which apparently helped only a little, he told Yardley. His best novelty item was a deck of George Bush playing cards. "This was a play on the most diabolical members of the Bush administration. They were wildly popular." Alas, as of Tuesday, that's sort of old news, too.