This Saturday, one of Halifax’s most beloved newsstands, Atlantic News, will be celebrating 40 years of business. The newsstand with a big selection and even bigger heart will celebrate with plenty of giveaways, an in-store concert care of local magazine Mixtape and delicious offerings from the Food Wolf truck. Michele and Stephen Gerard took over the business in 1997 and have been dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and supporting local publications. I popped by to chat with Michele as she was getting ready for the impending party and was impressed to learn that the store now carries over 5000 different titles. Amidst the towering boxes of free goodies to give away on Saturday, Michele answered a few questions on Atlantic News’ staying power.
What do you think is the secret to Atlantic News’ longevity?
“It would definitely be service and selection. As a destination newsstand, we literally strive to have something for everyone. The other element is our staff. They are fantastic and many of them have been here for years. We really form relationships with our customers and greet people by name and know what they’re looking for. People like to be acknowledged and I think we have fun getting to know our customers.”
How has the business evolved over the years?
“I don’t know that it’s changed dramatically since we’ve been here but there’s been a change in the newspapers that we get in and how they get here. I’d say one of the biggest changes is that we can print same day on-demand newspapers right here on the spot. I also think we are seeing more niche magazines being put out that are beautiful books, almost works of art, such as Kinfolk, Chickpea and The Gentlewoman magazines. They may be put out less frequently, but they are so beautiful and meant to be kept, almost like coffee table books or collectors’ items.”
How has the digital age affected business for you?
“I really think that people still enjoy relaxing with a hard copy of a magazine or newspaper. But nowadays, people spend a lot of their leisure time on-line on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…. It’s all very addictive and it doesn’t leave as much leisure time to sit down and relax with a good magazine. Having news available on-line does affect our sales but we still have a local clientele that prefer to read the real thing.”
You seem to offer many Canadian and local publications. Why is supporting local important to you and Stephen?
“As personal shoppers, we’ve always started with the local businesses such as Woozles and Bookmark. We’re members of I Love Local and supporting our community is really important to us. We’re a small business and featuring local magazines is important to us as well as just supporting other local businesses. Small, independent businesses keep our city vibrant and interesting and we’re very proud to be part of that.”
Join the party on Saturday, October 19th from 10-4 at Atlantic News at 5560 Morris Street. Giveaways include signed copies of Lapham’s Quarterly, Monocle Magazine CDs, X Box pre-paid cards and a pre-paid credit card, among many other prizes.