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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Clayton's World News Under New Ownership; Westport Location Closed

Posted By on Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 3:18 PM

click to enlarge World News: Holding down the corner of Forysth and Central.
  • World News: Holding down the corner of Forysth and Central.
One of the few remaining newsstands in St. Louis has been sold. But don't fret ye lovers of obscure titles and foreign-language periodicals. The 43-year-old business still has life to it.

The new owners are book people. What's more, they have a special tie to World News, a Clayton fixture since its founding in 1967 by the late Roberta Selvidge.

"Roberta was my aunt," says Jerry Cowley, vice-president of the Jefferson City-based Cowley Distributing that took ownership of World News this month. "Her children later ran the store, and now we hope to carry on that legacy."

Cowley says World News is a perfect fit for his family's business, which distributes magazines to stores like Wal-Mart, Schnucks and Shop 'n Save and also owns retail bookstores in Missouri under the name Book and Toy

Still, one wonders, is a newstand a viable business these days?

"I think World News still has a place," responds Cowley. "Today magazines and books are treated like mass merchandise. That's why you see so many for sale at supermarkets and discounters. Those stores specialize in volume. They offer a few hundred titles but nothing like the thousands of choices at World News. Last time I was there I found a magazine for watch collectors. Where else can you find such niche publications?"

Cowley says the only changes he has planned for World News are to offer more books -- especially discounted bestsellers -- and give the store a bit of a face lift. "I don't want to say that it's outdated, but it hasn't been remodeled for a while." 

Still, the sale of the World News did not come without a casualty. The Wesport location of World News went out of business December 31 after 37 years and will not reopen. Cowley says his company didn't make an offer on the Westport location, which had a rough go of it lately.

"A few years ago the store moved from a more prominent location in Westport and just never experienced the foot traffic it had before," says Cowley.

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