Fischer’s Newsstand will close in Albion on Aug. 30

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2015 at 12:00 am

Business has been downtown mainstay for century

Photos by Tom Rivers – Gary Withey, owner of Fischer’s Newsstand in Albion since 1995, takes care of customer Amanda Harmer today. She bought a bag full of candy that is on sale.

ALBION – A store that has been a part of downtown Albion, and an endearing part of many childhoods, will close on Aug. 30 after more than a century of business.

Gary and Denise Withey became owners of the business in January 1995. They are out-of-towners. They live in Medina. Gary grew up in Kendall.

They weren’t sure the community would accept them. But Mr. Withey said the community has been welcoming since Day 1. He and his wife felt loved by their many customers through the years.

Lottery is a big draw for the business, which continues to have a variety of magazines and newspapers.

Sylvia Harmer said walking into the store is like stepping into the bar on Cheers, “Where everybody knows your name.” Mr. Withey gave her a big greeting today when she stopped in to check her lottery tickets.

Harmer said the Witheys have always been very personable with the public. She likes to see other customers at the store. Fischer’s has been a place to swap stories and catch up on the news. She started coming to Fischer’s to pass time while her kids had dance classes.

“I just like to come down and hang out,” Harmer said. “I’ve met a lot of people here.”

Many of the customers are older, and many have passed away without new faces coming in. Withey said business has slowed with a shrinking customer base. He also felt it with a decline in newspaper, magazine and sports cards sales.

Fischer’s Newsstand is open until Aug. 30 at 105 North Main St.

Karen Walls stops by Fischer’s with her son Aaron Walls and nephew Joseph Argo.

The portrait of Medina native Carl Fischer hangs on the wall at Fischer’s. He pitched for the Detroit Tigers and later lived in Albion and ran the newsstand.

The Witheys persevered and kept the business going in recent years, as other news stands shut down in Batavia, Medina, Rochester, Dunkirk and other Western New York communities.

The business pressures don’t compare to the crisis for the Withey family last October when Denise suffered catastrophic kidney failure. She was on dialysis until her death at age 51 on Feb. 27.

Mr. Withey said he is thankful for the community support since then. But he no longer wants to keep up with the demands of the business. His wife worked part-time at the store while working a full-time job with The Arc of Orleans County.

“We were in business for 20 years and that was our goal when we opened,” Withey said today. “I’m going to miss it terribly.”

He will start a new job in September as a medical courier for ACM Medical Laboratory in Buffalo. Withey won’t have to work holidays and weekends in the new job. He hasn’t had those perks at Fischer’s.

Withey said the store has never struggled to sell candy. Many children come in for candy bars and sweets.

Karen Spierdowis remembers coming to the store when she was about 7. It was her first trip from home without a grownup. She and some friends went to the store for candy. She spent part of her allowance on penny candy.

“It was a rite of passage for kids in Albion,” she said.

Spierdowis has stayed a steady customer. Now she brings in her son for candy or for sports cards. Sometimes she picks up a newspaper or magazine.

“It’s the last of an era with the newspaper store,” she said.

Withey, 54, wanted to thank his many loyal customers over the years, as well as long-time employees Marilyn Kilbourn and Diane Edwards, his wife’s best friend since kindergarten.

“We’ve had people come in here from ages 6 to 90,” Withey said. “The town has treated us very well. They took care of us for 20 years.”