You don't need hundreds of connections with publishers to open a newsstand. All you need is one deal with a distributor, enough capital to cover the startup costs and a license to operate a newsstand. A creative idea that helps your newsstand stand out from the competition can help you thrive in a competitive business.

Startup Costs estimates that the cost of starting a newsstand can range from $10,000 to $50,000. The costs depend on the city in which you're located. For example, as of 2014 New York City is implementing a plan that will make all its newsstands look identical. This means that you have to pay Cemusa, the company designing the newsstand kiosks, $30,000 to build your newsstand.

Newsstand Licenses

Find out if the city you're working in requires that you get a newsstand license. In New York City, you'll need a license if you're working on a public sidewalk and your stand isn't easily removable. To be approved, you must confirm that your location is available and send a certified letter to adjacent building owners notifying them of your newsstand. The application must include a photograph of the applicant, affirmation that the newsstand will be your principal employment, scale drawings of your stand, photos of the location and a license fee of $269. In Philadelphia, you'll need a commercial activity license and a newsstand license. Your application should include a sketch of your proposed newsstand along with a posted bond of $1,500. The application costs $300.

Distributorship Deal

Finding a good distributor is key to running a successful newsstand. A distributor has deals with hundreds of magazine and newspaper publishers, allowing you to sell a variety of publications at your stand. Examples of distributors include:

  • Ingram Periodicals
  • Media Solutions
  • H.D.A.
  • Select Media
  • Source Interlink
  • Hudson Direct

Make sure your distributor operates with a buyback policy. This means the distributor takes back any unsold publications at no cost to you.

Marketing Your Newsstand

Diversification is a key part of marketing your newsstand. To attract customers, you don't want to just sell magazine and newspapers. Offer little extras such as lottery tickets or unique snacks to stand out from the competition and get repeat customers. Before you start selling these extras, check with your city to see if you need an extra license. In New York City, for example, you need a special license to sell cigarettes.

Buy Another Newsstand

To avoid the startup costs and licensing issues, you might also consider buying a pre-existing newsstand from someone who wants to get out of the business. According to the Newsstand Association of Philadelphia, this tactic requires far less paperwork. You might be able to find newsstands for sale by looking at classified ad or newsstand marketplace sites. When you find one you're interested in buying, contact your lawyer to work out a contract that allows you to purchase the newsstand. Next, visit the License & Inspections Service in Philadelphia to have the newsstand's license changed to your name. In any other city, contact the municipal services department or the county clerk to find out where you need to go to get the license changed to your name.