Gold Winner and Hall of Fame Inductee Atlantic News
Silver Winner Blowers Street Paper Chase Newsstand & Cafe
Bronze Winner Chapters, Bayers Lake
The first-ever Best of Halifax poll—then known as "The good, the bad and the ugly”—didn't have a Best Newsstand/Magazine Store category. The next two Best ofs, in 1996 and 1997, saw Daily Grind win gold. In 1998, however, Atlantic News unseated the Grind to begin a gold-winning streak that survived even those years we somehow forgot to include the category in the survey. To ensure that we don't forget again, we are hereby elevating Atlantic News to the BOH Hall of Fame, retiring their category like a sports legend's number.
“Mags, rags, milk and bread, and all in the same wonderful spot for 25 years," we wrote in that 1998 Best of. "Did the News' recent silver anniversary push it over the edge to win this hotly-raced category?" Nearly two decades later, we can answer that question with an emphatic "probably not." Rather, January 1, 1998 was when Michele Gerard and her husband Stephen officially closed the deal to buy the store, bringing a revitalizing energy that still drives the business today.
Compare these photos to see how times have, and haven’t, changed Halifax’s renowned newsstand.
1. These balloons are from Atlantic News’s 25th anniversary celebrations in 1998, the same year Stephen and Michele Gerard bought the store. Their revitalizing energy launched a string of Best of Halifax gold wins, and the 2001 renovation that gave the shop its current less-cluttered layout.
2. Michele estimates the store’s 1973 business model as “80 percent smokes, 20 percent newspapers.” Late founder Pat Doherty brought 200 papers in from around the world, but even by 1998 the internet was hurting newspaper sales. Today’s revenue mix is “50 percent magazines and newspapers, 50 percent everything else.”
3. Halls cough drops, because some things just don’t change. Other constants? “The loyalty of customers, the beauty of print,” says Michele. How people use their time has changed, meaning Atlantic News competes against screens, not other retailers: “We are in the entertainment business. Chapters isn’t our competition.”
4. When Michele hears laughter in the store, most of the time it’s coming from browsers at these stationery racks: “People LOVE our cards.” Another new, growing category at the store is books, as in novels. But magazine publishers call their publications books, too, so maybe any bookselling is natural.
5. Atlantic News carries 5,000 magazine titles. “We still get brand-new magazines every month,” Michele says. She sees a print renaissance in high-quality publications that cost $20 and only come out a few times a year. “Kinfolk, Lapham’s Quarterly, Jeanne d’Arc Living—these are the new publishers.”