Newsstand takes root on DT Mall

Undaunted by the failure of the Downtown Mall's last newsstand, a former editor with Playboy and Maxim began installing the structure that will soon bring magazines to the masses that now swarm the Mall.

"It's all about volume," says Steve Russell, the now 40-year-old freelance journalist who won permission from City Council to rent a few square feet of the bricked pedestrian pathway in front of the Regal cinema near the Omni hotel.

Reminded by an interviewer that the Mall's last newsstand– a copper and hardwood creation that cost more than $50,000– closed up nearly a decade ago, Russell points out that foot-traffic on the the Mall has exploded since then.

"You don't make much off each individual sale– that's for sure," says Russell. "But all the guys on the streets in New York make it somehow."

Like the New Yorkers, Russell also plans to sell cigarettes and candy. This will happen in a structure designed by architect Michael Stoneking to give maximum exposure to magazines and newspapers.

Russell points out that the kiosk-style design of the defunct newsstand put most publications around knee level and forced customers who wanted to see all the titles to walk 360 degrees around the circumference of the structure.

The 1994-installed kiosk closed after just a few seasons in business and was eventually donated to the City. It briefly served as a visitor's center, and most recently was slated to become an outpost of Atomic Burrito. But that plan fell through last year, and about all it's gained since then is a seemingly haphazard coat of red paint.

Russell says he fell in love with newsstands from his days in New York. He was deputy editor of Playboy and executive editor (the number two guy) of Maxim. While living in Lexington about 12 years ago, Russell says he also fell in love with Charlottesville. So he and his wife, also a freelance journalist, moved here last year.

He hopes to have the newsstand open by next week.

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