By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Everywhere you look on Monmouth Street, it seems, change is underway. Businesses coming and going. Major alterations. The vendor churn can sometimes seem as bustling as the foot traffic.
Red Bank News, the newsstand that’s been a fixture on Monmouth Street for decades, changed hands recently. But even in the midst of store makeovers galore, new owner Michael Bonney won’t be altering much.
That’s about it. Otherwise, the store’s mainstays are still newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, tobacco, and candy — the types of small pleasures that have kept it going for 50 years (by one estimate) or 70 (by another).
However long it’s been in business, “the place just needs a little TLC,” Bonney says, pointing out the new coat of green paint and the newly-created corridor where he’s removed a large rack. When a customer remarks that she preferred the old layout, the former No Ordinary Joe’s manager is diplomatic.
“You can’t please everyone,” Bonney says.
Bonney was a patron of the store when it was owned by Angie and Joe Patel, who own Eiffel Liquors on farther west Monmouth Street.
“I used to come in here for my papers, and the store owners’ son joked, ‘You should buy this store,’” he says. “I laughed, but that planted the idea in my head.”
He’d been thinking about opening something on Asbury’s Cookman Avenue, within walking distance of his home. Eventually, he decided he liked this idea better, and bought the business in March.
The store’s customers skew north of 30, the age at which polls say people no longer buy newspapers, but there’s a strong younger contingent as well, Bonney says.
Among the more-established clientele is Art Kamin of Fair Haven, an adjunct instructor in English and Journalism at Brookdale Community College and former editor of the now defunct Red Bank (later, Shrewsbury) Register. He stops in every day to pick up the Home News-Tribune and Hackensack Record.
“I look at them online, but it’s nothing like holding and reading an actual newspaper,” Kamin says.
Kamin, who’s also a New Jersey Press Association past president, says the place has a special appeal that has endured for decades, with all the coming and going of bundled newsprint, gum and cellophane-wrapped Te-Amo cigars.
“All the owners have made some changes, but the place still has character, as far as I’m concerned,” he says.
What’s most important, he adds, is that “a Red Bank treasure” has been preserved.