“Where’d the newsstands go?” asks SEPTA commuter Randy Maniloff, an insurance litigator at the Philadelphia-based law firm White Williams LLP.
The Faber newsstands and bookstores, which pushed local and national newspapers, glossy magazines, best-selling paperbacks, greeting cards, and packaged snacks from a pair of busy shops at opposite ends of Suburban Station, closed at the end of 2017.
Even with more Americans getting their news and reading electronically, “I can’t imagine there are too many downtown train stations in a major city where you can’t buy a newspaper, candy, or a lottery ticket,” groused Maniloff, who gets his newspapers delivered. “Guess I didn’t keep them in business buying Necco Wafers and my occasional Mad magazine,” added the lawyer, who moonlights as a stand-up comic and publisher of the insurance monthly Coverage Opinions.
The stands were run by Faber International, a Secaucus, N.J., firm that traces its roots to a tobacco shop opened in 1848. Faber faced “declining business” at the newsstands, said SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch. SEPTA won’t necessarily fill the space with another print store: “We haven’t heard from anyone who says they want a replacement that’s similar, as far as I know,” Busch added.
UPDATE 1/11: “Leases are in the works” for the ex-Faber sites, and “at least one location will carry a range of goods similar to Faber’s,” Jacqueline Buhn, principal and CEO at AthenianRazak, the Philadelphia real estate firm managing the Suburban Station shops, told me Thursday in an email. Who’s coming? “Stay tuned,” she said. Buhn also promised an expansion for one of the busy Dunkin’ Donuts shops on the concourse, “and the complete redesign of the area along 16th St. courtyard as a food court.” (end update)
At Faber’s, the stock and signage are gone, and the riot gates are closed all day. Customers have to surface to icy January streets in search of the items that eased the daily ride for generations of suburban commuters. Staff at Faber headquarters referred questions about the shutdowns to company officials, who didn’t immediately call back.
Faber also operates a newsstand and bookstore at 30th Street Station, which remains open, and more in other cities. 30th Street Station serves Amtrak trains to New York, Washington, and beyond, as well as local SEPTA train commuters, more of whom start and end their trips at Suburban Station across the Schuylkill in Center City.
SEPTA is talking to potential replacement tenants, though there has been no agreement for either former Faber space at Suburban Station, said spokesman Busch. A new tenant would join the chain bakeries, lunch joints, dollar stores, dry cleaner, and other shops along the concourse, which links to newer shops under the Comcast tower and others expected when the second Comcast building opens this year.