Picture the newsstand: a pre-Internet platform that once served as a place of discovery and news and now is mostly utilized for cheap snacks and $5 umbrellas. Today, these makeshift storefronts are often ignored, if not practically obsolete.
The New Stand, a curated retail store and media platform, is trying to salvage some of these spaces by bringing the newsstand into the modern era. Their first stop: Union Square’s subway station, now complete with a fully launched New Stand. Founded by Lex Kendall, the Creative Director of Evolve Electric Motorcycles, and George Alan, founder of Playland Motel, The Panther Room, and Output, the stand offers commuters a selection of core goods alongside curated, emerging technologies. So you could find a $2 protein bar next to a $900 OP-1 Synthesizer. It’s also built in a modular design so that the store can be turned over in a matter of minutes, giving it a different look from morning to evening.
“These are really well-loved spaces that New Yorkers have gathered around, but perhaps it’s time for an update. A lot of us travel by these spaces everyday but perhaps they aren’t relevant as they use to be, and we’re trying to bring that along,” Kendall said. “We really want to be in service of the commuter. So we’re thinking like New Yorkers—George and I are Brooklyners who use the L train—who pass these spaces everyday. So [providing] core products–people need a great juice on the run and a protein bar, they need an umbrella, basically all of those things–but just elevating them a little bit because [we’re] sophisticated consumers right here in the city.”
Though they will keep core products based on its demand, The New Stand will cycle out products so people are constantly introduced to new items they have yet to hear about or are only available online, like Stowaway Cosmetics.
The New Stand also offers a free app that pushes new music content, video and stories, giving users access to new information while commuting from Point A to Point B. And understanding that there’s nothing to do while commuting underground, users will have access to articles offline through the app.
“We built this wonderful platform both physically and digitally, and we’ve taken our best stab,” Kendall said. “There’s a lot of shifting landscape in retail, there’s a lot of competition with eCommerce [and] media companies are figuring out how they can have real and genuine relationship with their audiences, and be a part of their day instead of being a big billboard or something that’s really in your face. And we found that being of use, and being there, and being thoughtful is the best way to build a relationship and I think that approach will give us relevance.”
The clean and crisp design of the stand is a stark contrast to the fool smelling, urine-stained subway station, giving the stand a futuristic glow in an archaic space.
“The juxtaposition is really powerful, it feels me with delight,” Kendall said. “But it’s amazing to see the crumbling, if you will, the downtrodden of the surroundings and then see this beautiful little polished jewel, it’s like an oasis.”
And while it might seem that the company is opening a luxury store in the slums of New York subway systems, Kendall and CEO Andrew Deitchman stress that the New Stand is accessible for the average commuter. So you’ll find a $70 umbrella next to a $12 one.
“I don’t think it’s about taking these spaces underground and turning them into a Glow Bar. What people need is to grab something and go. So it’s not like there isn’t any logic to these spaces having been used for this sort of convenience retail purpose in the past, [but] it’s that they’re willfully stuck many decades ago, so it really needs to be updated quite a bit,” Deitchman said. “So let’s celebrate our city in a way that elevates our commute on some level, and elevates convenient retail and newsstands. Why not? I think New Yorkers deserve it. So let’s do it, let’s have a new day.”