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15 Secrets Newsagents Won’t Tell You

People still buy top-shelf magazines, and no, we don't know what the winning lottery numbers are in advance. Stop asking us.

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1. The shifts can be a bitch.

Flickr: erasingscott / Via Creative Commons

The manager can be in from 5am each day, sorting out the deliveries and restocking milk in the fridge, until well past 7pm each night because they have to close the store, empty the tills, and tie up the papers to be collected the next morning.

2. Working on New Year's Day is an absolute bitch.

30 Rock / NBC

We're open nearly every single day of the year. On New Year's Day you're often hungover and there's someone knocking at 5.30am demanding a newspaper because they were really boring and went to bed at 9pm the previous night.

3. On Boxing Day we're usually forced to replace a lot of our Christmas stock with displays of Easter eggs.

Michael Bradley / Getty Images / Via Twitter: @barbaraweed

We're usually told to do this by the head office or the confectioner, and it's depressing as hell. Also, if you don't do it on Boxing Day and a "secret shopper" comes in, you're told off. Told off because of selling Easter eggs at Christmas.


4. But the fact that you see every single goddamn person out there weirdly makes up for these things.

You see everyone, from prince to pauper. From 8 years old to 80. Daily. There are truly few jobs that you get to see such a wide assortment of people. It's like you're slam dunk right in the middle of humanity, eavesdropping on everything.

5. People still buy porn magazines.

John Firth / Getty Images / Hulton Archive and Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

They're there on the top shelf because people still buy them. This might be because internet speeds in the countryside are too slow for them to watch tits in HD, or because they haven't worked out what "incognito" on Google Chrome is.

When someone goes to the till with a porn magazine, you never want to ask them why they buy it. It just feels so wrong.

6. And porn can be bought by unexpected people.

Flickr: trois-tetes

There was one guy who used to buy a porn mag with a copy of the Financial Times each week. And instead of putting the magazine into a plastic bag after purchasing it, he would merely slot it into the newspaper itself, something like Horny Housewives now comfortably snug next to the "How to Spend It" supplement.

7. Discretion is kind of an "unwritten rule" here.

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From when someone comes in to top up on their electricity meter using the PayPoint system with only a couple of quid because that's all they have left till the end of the week, to when someone buys GT Magazine (Gay Times) possibly for the very first time because they're curious, we don't make a big deal about it.

We're just a witness, and it happens more times than you would believe.


8. But you do question your morals at times.

Hurwitz Company / Netflix / Fox

You don't want to tell people how to live, but when you see a very ill person or a young person (18+) purchase a fistful of cigarettes, it messes with you a bit. Especially as you know that them coming in obviously benefits the shop financially.

9. We’re actually really well informed of news events.

Scott Bryan / ITV / BuzzFeed

At one time or another we've all read a paper that reflects our political opinion. At a newsagents, you end up reading a lot of them because they're just there. We even read the papers we loathe. Really fucking loathe. Just to pass the time.

10. We just don't want to hear your racism.

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This happens when a person sees a front-page headline (let's say, about immigrants), is offended by the front-page headline ("omg immigrants") and then tells you about why said story is awful ("Immigrants are coming here and nothing is safe").

You block it out, like when you read comments on a newspaper website, hoping that other people don't think the same way they do.

11. We also don't want your shitty change.

Chip Somodevilla / Staff and Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

It holds up the queue and we have to count it again at the end of the day. Just count it up at home and then go to the sodding bank. It really isn't that hard.


12. The National Lottery is a curse and a blessing.

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Some customers come in and lose their shit when you tell them they've won a tenner. Other customers win considerably more and when you tell them about their great win their face looks as if you just blamed a fart on them. It's weird.

13. Other customers can be very superstitious.

The Hurwitz Company / Fox / Netflix

They make you manually type in each number they have chosen into the lottery machine because they don't like using the slips. And some customers blame you when they've had a bad run of losses and have not matched enough numbers.

Some even go to the extreme of making you hand back their lottery ticket that didn't win anything in case you were lying and you subtly won £10 million. Like if you won they wouldn't notice that you did.

14. Tying up all of the unsold newspapers and magazines at the end of the day is such a faff.

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Any newspapers we don't sell we have to send back again. We don't take them home. So you stack the newspapers in huge piles and tie them together using a thin bit of string, to be collected when you get the new papers the next day. The pile falls apart instantly if you don't get the tying 100% right.

15. And you fear for the future. A lot.

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Like every industry, the internet has changed everything. Lottery tickets are being bought by direct debits, alcohol can be delivered to your door, and newspapers? We all like to say that they're fucked, even though it might not be.

You worry. You notice in a newsagent that with some customers, particularly older ones, you are the only face-to-face conversation they have all day. They might live on their own, not use the internet, or speak to their family infrequently. You talk to some of them not only because they're nice people, but also because you really want to make them feel human.

They might not get that if they shop at a large supermarket chain. But if trends are continuing the way they are, that might be the only choice they have.