I am a person in her 30s who, like her parents and grandparents before her, swore that she would never prefer to read something on a computer or phone screen before a spine-bound book, or a newspaper, or even a monthly magazine, such as the very one I work for.
Ha! How wrong that person could be.
Since screens have become pervasive fixtures in our daily lives, my brain has slowly but very surely acclimated itself to wanting information from them—to favor reading on them, even, before anything in print. And so despite my stubborn hope that things might have been otherwise, once again I’ve learned: What we get is not usually what we hoped for.
But back to the point: Since the start of wide-spread digital consumption, combined with the fact that the business of print has suffered (to put it very mildly), the presence of physical reading materials have dwindled from our lives. And while there are some lovely old school newsstands in our subway and train stations, and on our streets—and given our preference for all things digital—we’ve become a species of readers who values print very little.
Which is why Regular Visitors, the newsstand, café, and gift shop that opened late last year in Boerum Hill, is beautiful. No, you might not need a novelty broom, such as the one that hangs conspicuously on an expertly crafted broom holder on the store’s back wall (sourced from Lostine in Philadelphia, and which will cost you $42). And, no, you might not also need the fancy soaps, or Japanese enamel teapots, or maple syrups, or high-end hair brushes that you can also buy there. But—but! All of those fancy goods are placed alongside, and therefore given equal weight to, a large and gorgeous wall of printed reading materials.
Magazines, newspapers, quarterlies, journals, all of them highly curated (so you can find Interview and Cherry Bombe, Cooks Illustrated, Upstate Diary, and of course the New Yorker and Harpers, for example, but you will not find Us Weekly), are displayed opposite each of these pretty gifts. In this company, print, like the rest of the 600-plus products in the story, becomes an objet d’art. A thing to pay attention to, and to admire.
The world may be struggling to keep the business of print alive and kicking. But Regular Visitors makes it easier for us to remember that the experience of holding and interacting and engaging with the things that we read is valuable; that words and pictures in stories are products of people’s labor; that they are more than willy nilly thoughts that we can click on for a second or two before we click on them again to make them disappear; that contained inside of them are peoples’ entire lives. These publications are a good reminder of all of that. Plus, looking at them all lined up and on display is fun and inspiring, too.
Regular Visitors is the project of Neil Rasmus of Izola (a lifestyle brand) and Aesthetic Movement (a design and retail consulting firm), in partnership with Jesse James (creative director) and Daniel Sorg (brand director). They worked together to source not only each of the gifts and printed materials you can buy there, from all around the country, but also the coffee from Red Hook’s Noble Tree, and pastries from Mazzola bakery in Carroll Gardens. All told, it’s an eye-catching and engaging place to get caffeinated, get a snack, buy a present, and remember that reading—the kind that you grew up watching your parents do at the kitchen counter, newspaper and cup of coffee in hand—still does exist in this world. Regular Visitors makes it easier to embrace that, or at least easy enough to flip through something good, and to engage your mind, on your subway ride to work.
Regular Visitors, 149 Smith St., Boerum Hill
All images by Jane Bruce