My earliest memory of the Sydney’s Taylor Square Newsagency was when they had a “footpath sub-branch” outside The Oxford Hotel. As a young man from the country, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the large collection of international newspapers and “adult magazines” they sold. And yes, in my younger years, I may have bought some of both. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I was still a magazine buyer. And so when I came to Sydney, I liked nothing more than “stocking up” ahead of a return to life in the country.
By the time I’d moved to Sydney in the mid 90s, I’m pretty sure they no longer had the “footpath sub-branch”. Instead, the Taylor Square Newsagency had a fairly healthy floor space on the opposite side of the road, and they had an amazing collection of magazines. Back then I was still buying “fashion magazines” and “gay magazines” and things like “The Face”. Yes, really.
A few years later I was buying cooking magazines and computer magazines. And then it was family history magazines. More recently, I was using the Taylor Square Newsagency for art magazines, the only magazines I still buy in the physical form.
Along the way, I popped in to the newsagency for the occasional Lotto ticket, and memorably to buy some early morning newspapers. There was a New Years Day when I presented the Breakfast Show on ABC Radio, and, since the newspaper deliveries to work didn’t occur early enough, stopped in there to pick them up on the way to work. So I caught a cab from home, via the Taylor Square Newsagency. As I wrote at the time
“I want to go to Ultimo, but I need to go via the Taylor Square newsagency to pick up some newspapers on the way”, I told him. In scenes reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, forty-or-fifty people descended on the taxi as we pulled in at Taylor Square. You could see the look of desperation in their eyes, and then disappointment as they soon realised the taxi wasn’t free. Feeling a bit sorry for the taxi driver and the “siege situation” I’d dragged him into, I promised him I’d run in and out as quickly as possible. As I ran in, I noticed there were queues everywhere on Oxford Street, even apparently at the sex shop next to the newsagency.
On Monday morning, I checked in with my colleagues to see if they still called in to pick up the early morning papers. “No, we do everything online”, they told me. And I guess that’s the issue for the Taylor Square Newsagency: life has changed. They probably should have downsized their floor-space, as others have, as the newspaper/magazine industry has changed. There again, there’s also the issue of how Oxford Street has changed since the arrival of the 1.30am lockout, which, undoubtedly has indirectly contributed to things. I hear “The Oxford” is about to close also for a few months, and then “turn straight”. Life really has changed since the late 80s, early 90s, eh?
I was actually a little sad when I walked past the newsagency late on Sunday night and noticed they had closed. A friend told me she and a friend had the same reaction. “He got really teary”, she told me. “Where am I gonna buy Italian Vogue from now”, he asked. :)
It must be even sadder for the family which has owned the newsagency since the 1930s.