World Wide News doesn’t seem to sell much news, at night at least.
Only a few customers browsed the stacks and shelves of newspapers and magazines at this downtown Rochester store one Tuesday night, even though many passed through.
Instead, most patrons shuffled about the seating area at the front of the store, a spartan bullpen with concrete floors, waiting in line or watching the state lottery drawings on a T.V. above. Lottery tickers flashed red with messages of hope and fortune — “Good luck,” in electronic letters.
If you tried hard enough, you might have seen the handwritten sign directing customers to the magazine section through the thicket of lotto machines and adverts.
Located off Saint Paul Street, World Wide News is one part convenience store, one part deli, and one part newsstand. Its parking lot is perhaps most notable for the adjacent building’s mural, which depicts a bear cub sleeping on its mother’s stomach. The store sticks low to the ground, with grey walls and a marquee spelling its name in red and white resting on top of a canopy of the same color scheme, which boasts the store’s wares—books, magazines, newspapers (domestic and foreign). Eight of the light-backed letter signs were out.
Through the double-door breezeway is the seating area — vaguely reminiscent of a hockey rink, with its wooden rafters and faded booth benches — where the customers waited that day. Beneath their chatter and the distant hum of a radio, a lotto ticket printer perpetually buzzed, interrupted by customers calling out the numbers they would like punched in. The soft sound of instant ticket scratching crept up intermittently.
Past the bullpen and grocery section is the store’s namesake: newspapers and magazines of every ilk.
First are the papers — national standards like The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the N.Y. Daily News, the N.Y. Post, and the Boston Globe, along with regional favorites like the Syracuse Post-Standard, the Buffalo News, and the hometown Democrat and Chronicle. The selection features issues from a day or two back, along with thick Sunday editions for the more ambitious. The D&C had sold out earlier in the day. A man in a black pea coat jacket stopped to look at the papers for a second, before drifting back into the grocery section and then out the store.
Beyond the newspapers is an eclectic magazine selection, with mainstays like The New Yorker and The Atlantic paired with specialist publications, like Bank Note Reporter.
On the pegboard walls behind the magazine shelves are yellowed newspaper issues sealed in plastic — famous front pages of The New York Times announcing rocket launches and presidential shootings.
World Wide News’ night scene is little more than a lottery ticket line, but the store retains its own charm as a quiet hub of information. In a way, it peddles in escapism, selling people a way out of their daily lives, either through lottery winnings or the pages of a newspaper. Posted on the counter where customers ordered lotto tickets that Tuesday was a list of winners: $500, $750, $974.
Not all are so lucky. A man with a lottery ticket clutched in his hand stood staring at the T.V., watching the winning numbers splash up on the screen. When the numbers settled, he crumpled the ticket and left.