Newsstands Might Be Allowed to Sell More Useful Stuff Soon

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NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03:  Jerry Delakas, 63, (R) a longtime newspaper vendor in Manhattan's Cooper Square, stands by his newsstand on April 3, 2012 in New York City. Delakas has been selling papers, magazines, lottery tickets and other items seven days a week for 25 years at the iconic New York location. Despite the license holder for the newsstand leaving it to him in her will, Delakas is being threatened with eviction by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The New york agency claims that he's not the legal license holder. The area around Astor Place at Lafayette Street, once the heart of bohemian New York, has slowly evolved into an area of banks and chain stores like Starbucks and The Gap. Critics of the city's threat to evict Delakas say that he represents some of the last traces of authentic New York.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo: Spencer Platt/2012 Getty Images

Did you know that New York City law currently prevents newsstands from selling items worth more than $5? We did not, though the exceptions allowed for cigarettes, newspapers, magazines, prepaid Metrocards, and calling cards make that rule less obvious to people who do not happen to run newsstands. Either way, in what is probably mostly an effort to seem more friendly to small businesses, mayoral candidate and current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is endorsing an impending piece of legislation that would raise the newsstand price cap to $10. This is good news for newsstand owners, whose profits have suffered from the declining number of customers buying print publications and the rising costs of supposedly cheap things. "After cigarettes, the highest value is nothing, basically," said proprietor Manny Patel to the New York Post.

A $10 limit would allow vendors to improve everyone's lives by carrying stuff that people are always forgetting at home, such as cell phone chargers, earbuds, sunglasses, and toiletries. And, perhaps most importantly, the change could also make super-crappy umbrellas — the under-$5 ones that are guaranteed to break or take out someone's eye by the end of the unexpectedly rainy day on which they were purchased — a thing of the past. "The $4 umbrella of 2002 isn’t the same as the $4 umbrella of 2012-13," said Quinn as she announced the plan. "The $4 umbrella in 2013 — you’re lucky if it’s going to get you to the corner." Of course, assuming the proposal passes, it'll be up to the newsstand guys to make the dream a reality by actually stocking higher-quality umbrellas, as opposed to just selling the classic models for even more money than they are worth, which is approximately zero dollars.