An underground newstand has recently opened at the Union Square stop in New York City — but the underground de facto bodega isn't quite like the usual, grimy operation with a grated door. Instead, the New Stand could almost be called a boutique, stocked with merchandise that has a little more use for commuters — items that go beyond the usual snackage and soda cans, including a specially-made app that can blast traditional news without the use of traditional Wi-Fi.
The place where the New Stand now stands was once "an old newsstand that sold chocolate bars and Snickers and magazines and Snapples, and has done that exact same thing for 30 years," entrepreneur George Alan told Wired in an interview. The impetus for Alan's smart underground bodega, which was put to paper by designer Francois Chambard (as well as New Stand's other co-founders, Lex Kendall, David Carson, and Andrew Deichtman) was more or less that stasis, especially compared with cities like Tokyo, which have much more vibrant, literal underground commercial infrastructure.
The merch the New Stand proffers potential customers is more handy on-the-go stuff than the usual fare, including "Help Remedies kits, Binchotan charcoal toothbrushes, and Sir Richard's all-natural condoms," and most importantly, news. The New Stand's news app will contain bite-sized morsels of anything that falls under the the general news-related umbrella, including blog posts, photos, videos and listicles. According to CEO and co-founder Andrew Deitchman, the New Stand's app will make it easier for customers to find what they're into at the underground shop by tailoring to the interest of their individual users.
As it stands, the New Stand has signed a 10-year lease with the MTA for the Union Square space, and there are plans to open other New Stands at Brookfield Place and the Lexington Avenue stop in the future.
"We're going to figure out how to make it become whatever it wants to become," said Alan. "There's 150,000 New Yorkers who walk by it everyday. We'll be bringing things to people during their everyday routine, to inject some newness into their daily grind."