In olden tyme, when we were one of only 2 places in Durham selling the Sunday New York Times, we had to drive to an east Durham warehouse at dawn to pick up the uncollated papers. The trickiest part, then, was unloading them back at the store while trying to open the shop and sell a few copies to the early birds. Good thing for coffee.
The Sunday person would then do the whole stretch by themselves. So thanks Michael, Bob, and Michael!
We've always been an information outlet. When we hire new staff, we caution them that there's just no way they are going to be able to answer even half of the questions that get phoned in. But somewhere on the wall, in a book, or in the magazine room, there probably will be an answer.
With funky names like Carrier Pigeon, Fine Print, Desert Moon, 48 States, Last Gasp, and Ubiquity, our magazine distributors have kept us current over the years. Alas, most of them have closed up shop given the ficklness and slim margins of the magazine business. Most made deals with the big box retailers and then suffered the consequences within two or three years when they were flooded with returns just as payments were anticipated. Cash flow problems occurred, they couldn't pay the small presses and many folks got burned.
We get calls from friends in the Bay Area, the Lower East Side, Austin, Seattle, and Albuquerque, all print media hot beds, hyping us to new periodicals and zines and in turn we pass on the good word about own own great locals like DoubleTake, The Sun, Mineshaft, Stay Free, The Rambler, and Southern Exposure, to just name a few.
Some magazines just come out of left field. They're the most fun to seek out, often print harbingers of culture shifts. We were the first place south of DC to carry Spy, The New York Rocker, Raw, Wet, Wired, and Make. Magazines like the annual Oxford American Music Issue and special issues of The New Yorker have always been huge for us. We miss The Front Page dearly. They brought a steady stream of people through the door ever other Thursday.
We hired our first (and best ever!) assistant manager, Randy Campbell, because he came in every week to buy the Village Voice! Now we wonder if there can ever be a Pazz and Jop Poll without Robert Christgau.
Nothing stays the same in print media. Editors, publishers, distribution deals come and go. We now get our New York Times through a reliable Virginia agency and many of our magazines from a company out of Canada. We're excited about the new Craft magazine and always wish we had more of that issue of the mag just talked about on NPR.