Your favorite underground bodega may be going the way of the pay phone.
This week, the MTA announced a new initiative to replace some former subway newsstands with large vending machines that look like airport DVD rental boxes. Sales for many subterranean retail outlets have been declining as less people stop to purchase candy and newspapers. (As a reminder, Time Out New York is an informative and entertaining free print product, that you can pick up in above-ground boxes throughout the city.) This is definitely not because people are spending less time on platforms, so perhaps Gothamites have been on a sustained health kick.
"As part of a broader push for innovation and in response to the changing needs of our customers, we're reimagining what retail in the subway looks like," MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber said in a statement to Crain's.
Currently, there are 86 retail spaces in subway stations out for bid and the MTA is predicting that at least some of them will be provided to our future robot overlords rather than humans. The Daily News reports that 40% of the 326 retail spaces owned by NYC transit are currently empty or shuttered, so it’s definitely a buyer’s market out there, folks. If you’ve ever wanted to open your dream small business on a subway platform, now’s the time.
In addition to snacks (If they don’t have packets of Bazzini Nuts, we riot), the machines will have items like travel-sized toiletries. The giant vending machines are only set to replace empty stalls as opposed to newsstands that are currently operating...for now.