City News Newsstand announces plans to close
‘The people just aren’t coming downtown’
The Daily Times-Call
LONGMONT — Store manager Janet VanDam could read the writing on the wall. Brought in a year ago to try to turn business around at City News Newsstand, VanDam could only watch as it dwindled to the point that the owners have decided to close.
“I can’t believe you guys are closing,” one customer said at checkout Tuesday afternoon, echoing comments VanDam said she had been hearing all day, since a sign announcing the store’s closing sale had been painted on the front window that morning.
The store opened in Longmont in September 1972 and has been in its current location, the former Lutes Drug Store, since 1982. The 125-year-old building at 379 Main St. received local landmark designation status in 1983.
“The people just aren’t coming downtown,” said VanDam. “It’s surprising how many people come in and say ‘I didn’t know the store was here,’ or you tell somebody you’re the manager at City News and they look at you with a blank stare.”
VanDam said the owners of the store, Newsstand Solutions LLC, plan to shut the doors sometime next month, depending on how quickly the store’s inventory of books and the like sells out. Until it closes, the store will keep all magazines up to date, she said.
The decision to sell didn’t come lightly, VanDam said. Even before she was hired, she said, business had been falling off. Newsstand Solutions, which also owns City News Loveland and Woody’s Newsstand in Greeley, had considered remodeling the building as it did at its other stores, but decided it couldn’t justify the expense, given the Longmont location’s drop in business.
Woody’s in Greeley has been completely remodeled and now has a sandwich and coffee bar, and the Loveland store has added a coffee bar, VanDam said.
In a statement regarding the closing of the Longmont store, the owners said they are leaving open the option of reopening the store “pending the positive development of the Longmont downtown area.” Van Dam said that option comes from an agreement the owners of City News have worked out with the buildings’ owner, the John Duffey family of Fort Collins.
“If things change downtown, we could come back,” she said. “But right now it’s not feasible for us to stay open.”
Duffey, who opened City News in 1972 at 505 Main St., bought the building at 379 Main St. in 1982 and, following a four-month renovation, relocated his business there.
His predecessors at the location include the Lutes, who bought it in 1936 and ran a drugstore there for many years, and even James Cash (J.C.) Penney himself. Penney ran one of his department stores at the location until 1925, when he subletted it after buying the much larger building on the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Main Street.
The 379 Main St. location was part of the original Chicago Colony, and the first record of a building there — the same building housing City News today — was 1890.
Today, more than 3,000 titles line the store’s shelves. There’s a magazine for every hobby or interest imaginable, a walk-in humidor still occupies one corner, and Sunday papers from other states are always a popular draw, VanDam said.
The building’s tin ceilings and oak floors were exposed during the 1982 remodel, but there’s no question the interior today could use a touch-up. For many of City News ’ customers, however, the old-fashioned aspect of the place is undoubtedly part of its charm.
“It’s very nostalgic for a lot of people to walk into that type of store in that building,” said Mary Murphy-Bessler, executive director of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority.
She said she had learned of City News ’ closing Tuesday afternoon, and acknowledged that losing such a destination-type store downtown would be a hit.
“Especially during Art Walk,” said Murphy-Bessler. “It was funny — that was one of the most popular sites. People would always make their way down there during Art Walk.”
For this Friday’s Art Walk, VanDam said her store would allow two artists to display their work in the store’s windows, rather than the traditional one, “because I won’t be here for the rest of the year.
“We’ve always been involved in Art Walk and supporting the community. It’s kind of sad to see that go.”
Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-684-5291, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey, thanks WalMart! Thanks, Borders!
I discussed this in my column (please, bear with the cheesiness). The News Stand was one of the downtown stores I couldn't imagine going under. And there it goes.
It's like the canary in a coal mine . . .