Gary Waxman is calling it quits after 32 years greeting by first name the commuters who wandered over to his newsstand at Metro-North's White Plains train station for their morning paper.
With Metro-North pushing to increase rental income at stations, Waxman opted against putting in a bid for the newsstand where he has worked since he was 17.
"It's time," Waxman told Newsday on Monday. "I've had enough of getting up at a quarter to 4 every morning. I just did not want to do it anymore."
Waxman, 49, expects his last day could come as soon as the end of next month, the earliest the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could approve a winning bidder for the prime spot at the entrance to the Ferris Avenue station.
Officials have received several bids to operate the newsstand, said MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders. The agency has narrowed the selection down to a short list of bidders, and a choice could come as soon as next week, after credit and background checks are finished, Anders said. The MTA board would then have to sign off on the deal.
Waxman said his profit margins have thinned in recent years as the Web stole away hundreds of people who once bought their morning paper from Waxman's News before getting on the morning train to Grand Central Terminal. Sales of The New York Times alone have dipped to around 55 a day from a high of 700 in the 1990s, he said.
"Everyone has their pads out now," Waxman said. "That's their briefcase now. Nobody is buying the papers."
At the same time, the MTA and Metro-North are looking to their stations to help increase revenue for an agency that recently raised ticket prices to help close a $450 million gap in the MTA's $12.6 billion budget.
Waxman said that under the terms of the new contract, Metro-North was looking for the winning bidder to take on a 10-year lease, with 5 percent rent increases during the first five years and 3 percent increases for the last five.
Waxman, who lives near the train station, has been paying $2,300 a month since his annual lease expired in 2009, he said.
There's a slim chance he could remain at the newsstand as an employee if a friend's company is the winning bidder for the 30-foot newsstand.
However, Waxman said, that would likely be on a part-time basis, with few guarantees.
"If they get it, I'll go to work for him," he said.
Waxman said he'll miss the commuters who treat him as a member of the family as they stop in at the newsstand for a pack of gum or bottle of water and a friendly word before catching their train.
He said he has squirreled away enough money to be able to travel while spending more time with his longtime girlfriend and tending to his mother in an assisted living center.
Waxman started at the newsstand as a teenager, working for his father. In 1986, he took over the business after his father became ill. After more than three decades at the newsstand, Waxman said he's ready for his last day.
"When they tell me to step aside, I'll step aside," he said. "I have no regrets."