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END OF AN ERA: RED BANK NEWS CLOSING

Bonney, Mike 011409

Michael Bonney in his store yesterday.

Red Bank News, a mainstay retailer of newspapers, magazines, racing sheets and cigars in downtown Red Bank for at least five decades, is about to become yesterday's news.

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Owner Michael Bonney tells redbankgreen he'll be out of the space at 2 Monmouth Street by the end of the month.

The departure marks the end of an enterprise whose wall racks once teemed with glossy magazines, comic books and out-of-town papers — an ink-smudged mirror on a patch of bustling, postwar America.

But the newsstand has been living on borrowed time in recent years. Cigarette and newspaper sales have been plummeting. Six
months after he took over the business in March 2007, Bonney stopped selling magazines
as unprofitable, and planned to reposition the store as a dry goods mini-mart while sticking with cigarettes, lottery tickets and soda. But a lack of capital, and a dearth of foot traffic, doomed the effort, he says.

"My head knew from a business standpoint that it wasn't happening," Bonney says. "But it took my heart a while to accept that."

Stores

Red Bank News joins its former next-door neighbor, ME, and the nearby Asher Neiman Gallery as part of
the downtown exodus.

"I'm sorry that it has to be on my watch," Bonney says of the end. "But the business has changed."

Bonney says the decision was not driven by rent issues. His
landlord, Armand Crupi, "has been fair," and tried to accommodate the
store's needs, he says.

With the departure of Red Bank News, it's clear that Monmouth Street isn't immune to the rash of vacancy fever that annually hits the downtown market.

Next door, fashion accessories retailer ME closed last week, as did Asher Neiman Gallery a few doors down.

Red Bank RiverCenter is planning an "economic summit" on January 27 at which a panel of government officials and business owners will field questions and suggestions from the public about ways to make the downtown thrive again.

The event, scheduled for 7p at the Count Basie Theatre, is free and open to the public.

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