Tünel newsstand in Istanbul and Pet Sounds in Stockholm.
The Tünel, an underground railway with just two stops, has ferried Istanbulites from Galata to Péra since 1875, and a newsstand has stood at its top station for 60 years. Brothers Gürsel and Bekir Kosar have manned it since buying the ancient racks from previous vendors 16 years ago.
“We open at 7am,” says Gürsel, “and sell all the Turkish dailies – Takvim, Hürriyet, Sabah, the rest. But even in this area we sell a lot of sports papers.”
After rush hour, the students come to browse the satirical magazines that “often get censored,” says Gürsel. Most patrons prefer cigarettes to satire and the Kosars cater for all budgets, selling single cigarettes for 30 kurus (€0.2).
The foreign titles arrive at 2pm, when teachers from the nearby Deutsche Schule drop in for Die Zeit and the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Le Monde, The Guardian and International Herald Tribune also do well.
“People are less interested in news on the way home,” says Bekir, as he sells a Cosmopolitan to a young woman.
A chill draws in as the brothers shut up shop after 12 hours of standing on Péra’s concrete floor. “All we need is what people want,” says Gürsel. That and comfortable shoes.
Tünel newsstand, Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul
Three years ago, Stefan Jacobson’s Pet Sounds found itself at a crossroads. The record store he had founded and run for 25 years was clinging on against a backdrop of downloads and other cheap internet imports. His store – although legendary among Stockholm’s music-lovers for its unique selection – was in crisis. When a retail space became free next door, Jacobson risked bankruptcy and decided to expand. “The very day we opened again, our sales shot up,” he remembers.
What used to be a tiny, slightly intimidating crucible of fan-dom is now a friendlier place that whips up lattes for browsers while record racks provide hiding places for the shy. The basic concept, however, hasn’t changed since Jacobson became his own boss: sell the music you like. “We’ve survived because we’ve never cared about top lists: my own taste ranges from Swedish folk music to Black Sabbath.”
Stockholmers have learnt to trust Pet Sounds for those little extras: personal service and recommendations, as well as gigs in the shop’s cellar and in the Pet Sounds Bar across the street.
So what will happen when Jacobson’s LP generation dies out? “Who knows?” he says. “Maybe in a couple of years the new kids will think it’s cool to buy records again. If not, I’ll just have to change jobs.”
Pet Sounds Records, Skånegatan 53, Stockholm. + 46 (0) 8 702 9798
Pet Sounds recommended record labels:
Hybris – a pop label devoted to new artists
Labrador – purveyors of perfect pop
Service – a versatile, multi-genre label
Information – new electronica label, home of Pet Sounds’ bestselling record, Yearbook 1 by Studio