Marilyn Louie Desperately Needs a Bigger Newsstand on the Bowery, these Photos Show Why [PHOTOS]

Posted on: September 23rd, 2014 at 5:52 am by
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For embattled Bowery newsstand owner Marilyn Louie, it’s a war of attrition. Her repeated attempts to secure a more spacious, less dangerous workspace are falling on deaf ears. This despite the overwhelming support from Chinatown neighbors and Community Board 3, not to mention the local press.

Back in July, CB3 voted unanimously in her favor, and sent a letter to the Departments of Consumer Affairs and Transportation urging action for a larger facility. Support only goes so far, though. Louie and her lawyer simply seek fairness – that is, a newsstand with footprint comparable to what was confiscated. But the city doesn’t care. By waiting it out, a minor problem (for them) disappears.

Meanwhile, Louie suffers, both in body and business. She tells us that in thirty-seven years operating the stand, not once did the twelve-hour days cause any suffering; six weeks into the tiny Cemusa tenure, she’s in the hospital with a neck injury. And it’s easy to understand why. We walked down to the corner of Bowery and Pell and spent some time in the miniscule box. In a word – frightening. It’s very much a sweatshop.

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There is no room for an adult to comfortably sit. Mere inches of wiggle room exist between the counter and back wall. Space for product and appliances – including air conditioning or heating units – is paltry at best. Worse yet, the steel box is a heat conductor. Depending on the season, it’s either an oven or freezer.

This death trap of a newsstand was seemingly a setup for failure.

Despair is a proper adjective, too. Louie is already preparing for the inevitable by seeking other jobs. She doesn’t want to stop, but says business is down and the conditions deplorable. “I can’t go on like this,” she says. Cold drinks were usually the summer bestseller, alongside Chinese language newspapers. But without refrigeration, no one wants warm water on a hot day.

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Not to mention, there is plenty of competition from nearby brick-and-mortar, which undercuts her already cheap Chinese papers by offering free deals. Candy was also a decent seller, but there is little space for that, either. So, for the moment, Louie partially says afloat by selling Lotto.

Louie and her legal representation are at wit’s end. They just set up a petition to try and convince Mayor de Blasio to step into the fight. After all, it worked with Jerry Delakas

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