Neighborhood newsstand closes

Most ASL students pass The Wall, a small newsstand located in front of the St. John’s Wood tube station, every day. After 45 years, this business will be closing on March 23.

The shop’s owner, Madhu Kothari, said the shop is closing due to the lack of income. “The rent is about £200 a week so sometimes it’s not justifiable just to do business,” Kothari said. One of the factors causing the lack of sales is Brexit, which is killing businesses by roughly 40 percent. Lord’s Cricket Ground used to advertise and fund the shop, but now the company’s budget will not allow for this. Furthermore, free papers are handed out just outside the St. John’s Wood tube station, and consumers opt for the free option over the papers sold by The Wall.

Along with the income concerns, Kothari said that people’s increasingly health-conscious diets and the rise of environmental awareness are key contributors to the closure of the newsstand. Kothari explained that the income from ASL students has decreased. He believes this is due to the students being more aware of the negative impact of junk food. He also said that because reusable water bottles are increasing in popularity, the amount of plastic water bottles being purchased has decreased. “In the papers you read about the [impact] plastic bottles [have on] the environment.”

Many students will be affected by the closing of this local shop. Brodie Craig (’18), who has been going to The Wall since he came to ASL in 2014, will often stop by on his way to tube. “[The Wall] is a very convenient place to go to get a snack during the day since it’s so close [to ASL]. [It] has low prices and it will be [disappointing] that I might have to go to Tesco now.”

To Lindsay Harris (’20), the man who works at the newsstand, Girish Vaidya, brings a sense of community to the school and is really nice. “He always asks me how my day is going, even though I don’t go there a lot,” she said.

Christina Leonard

Saya Gallagher (’21) feels that it’s upsetting to see small businesses shutting down, such as The Wall. “I want to support small businesses rather than huge enterprises, so I find it kind of disappointing that the only things that succeed on our high street are the big businesses,” she said.

Kothari explained how he transformed the newspaper business into the candy store we see today during his time as owner. “At the time I took over, I applied to sell chocolates and drinks… and that’s how it all started,” he said.

Currently, newspaper sales only account for 10-15 percent of the store’s income.

Waking up at 3:30 a.m., Kothari currently delivers newspapers to ASL and the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth. “A lot of old people … still read the papers, they don’t use electronics, the media or the internet,” Kothari said.

The company has been delivering newspapers to these locations for the past six to seven years. Although The Wall is closing, Kothari’s business of delivering newspapers will continue to operate for at least three more years around St. John’s Wood.

Kothari hopes to spend more time with his family following the closure of The Wall. “I’m 63. I’m still very young. [I] still enjoy life, and I have a lovely granddaughter who’s about 15 months old,” he said. Though the closure of The Wall is unfortunate, Kothari spoke optimistically about his future. “I might as well make the most of life.”


Christina Leonard