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Newsstand at Pike Place Market to close after 40 years

Rain at Pike Place market in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

After 40 years of selling newspapers and magazines, the First and Pike News stand at Pike Place Market is closing for good Tuesday, with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan personally offering a goodbye.

“For 40 years, it has been an iconic small business in Pike Place Market, keeping Seattle residents informed about the world around us,” Durkan said on Twitter, officially commemorating the day as “First and Pike News Day.”

The owner, Lee Lauckhart, told the The Seattle Times that the printed word is a tough sell to people under a certain age and that they are barely making the rent these days. The stand used to carry 180 different newspapers, but has had to let that number drop to 55.

“I think it’s sort of as essential to the idea of the Pike Place Market as the market itself,” said KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney. “I think it’s great that it lasted as long as it did, and he acknowledges it’s not because he’s doing a worse job of selling. It’s because the market for magazines and newspapers has plummeted.”

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Lauckhart said it was getting to the point where he would have to start funding the stand out of his own pocket. For the past 13 years, Lauckhart has not collected a salary. He has been living on his Social Security while still paying his employees $15 an hour long before it became law.

“People don’t want it anymore. When you have a product and certain people turn against it, you better pull the curtain and go home,” Lauckhart told KIRO 7.

Part of what kept the newsstand surviving was the sale of gum, which people would often chew just to inevitability wad it to the gum wall. But now Lauckhart is resigned to enjoy his retirement.

“I’ve been kind of a labor of love, maybe a hobby. You could call it a hobby for me for quite a few years, but that’s OK,” he told KIRO 7. “Now it’s time. I’m 78. So what do you think? A rocking chair, a good book, I like traveling.”

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Tom simply hopes the market does something in tribute to Lauckhart and the newsstand.

“I would like to see some kind of honorarium to him, maybe just a sculpture or something of maybe about 10 feet wide,” he said. “I love that part of the the market, even though when’s the last time I bought a magazine there? Probably 10 years ago.”

First and Pike News Newstand is going out of business December 31.

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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