Iconic New York print shop Casa Magazines is bought by Iconic Magazines

If you’ve ever walked through Soho you know the branding of Iconic Magazines’s corner shops. While small by national standards, the downtown chain of corner stores have a telltale black-and-white marquis that grace shops on Lafayette, Spring, and Prince, the fashionable neighborhood’s flagship thoroughfares. It’s no surprise Iconic has sought out these corners. While their offerings are good—you can find anything from Vogue to PIN-UP to more niche broadsheets like HommeGirls and off-beat lit mags—these feel like slightly elevated bodegas. The fluorescent lights burn such that I try to go swiftly back into the cover of night.

As reported by Curbed, Iconic Magazines has purchased independent print media shop Casa Magazines. And while I hadn’t heard of Iconic business owner Hemal Sheth, I do know the owner of Casa Magazines: Mohammed Ahmed, the “king of print,” who on his birthday announced he is ready to retire at age 73.

After 30 years of operation Ahmed has sold Casa to Iconic. The story first reported by Curbed mentioned Sheth is a “friend of Ahmed’s.” It seems the sale was a friendly hand-off; a good omen. Ahmed is quoted saying that the shop “will be in good hands.” Casa’s shop manager Ali Wasim will stay on.

Casa, in my mind, was truly the most “iconic” independent magazine store selling just that: print media. Not pre-rolls or sandwiches or intricate and colorful smoking paraphernalia. They have custom merch, which I have purchased: I love my black Casa hoodie, with “Casa” written in the iconic fonts of several mags and newspapers treading down the back. The only other independent NYC shop merch I have is a T-shirt from Punjabi Deli on 1st Street, which I copped during their pandemic fundraising sale. I feel Casa and Punjabi occupy a similar place in my heart, and perhaps that of other New Yorkers: a reliable, homey corner where you can sneak in and kill time, take a date, go to find inspiration, and definitely find nourishment—mental and physical.

Of course the jury is still out as to whether Iconic will let Casa keep its own iconic signage on the oddly cut corner of 8th Avenue and 12th Street. It wouldn’t surprise me if this artifact is kept, like so many parasitic outlets have done recently in a lazy effort to preserve neighborhood character—think Aesop shops like the one on the Upper West Side that sit within the shell of a vintage laundromat.

I’m sure I will still deliver issues of AN by hand to a friendly man behind the counter, and I know invoking nostalgia requires much more fuel than an old sign above a door, but character is both fickle and fragile. A shop is so often the personality behind the counter.

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