Jim’s Paris Kiosk
Jim Howarth, the only Englishman amongst the 409 kiosquiers in Paris, was born in Nottingham and has been in Paris since the mid 70s. He carries 1500 titles from the French dailies to specialized magazine press, including titles in English such as the British newspapers, Time, Newsweek, Vogue and of course FUSAC’s LOOFE. The best selling items are the gossip magazines also TV, satire and news weeklies. Cultural history magazines come and go too.
Back in 2009 when we first met Jim his kiosk was one of the larger Paris Kiosk spaces on the streets of Paris when open onto the square in front of it. This gave plenty of browsing room for customers. In 2017 his spot was selected to be the guinea pig for the prototype of the new modern (and controversial) kiosk brought out by the city of Paris with a budget of 52.4 million euros. The new structure brings better insulation and keeps the weather out. There is also a closet for Jim’s personal items and the display racks are modular. All of these things bring a lot more comfort to Jim. For the client the new structure brings new services and new products. Jim now has, in addition to the news, some office supplies, cold drinks, telephones and chargers and a free charging station. The client can also more easily find what he or she is looking for and browse thanks to the modular displays. There are more services on the way too as this year the new kiosk structure is being generalized to 360 kiosks throughout the city. The new structure is more ecological too using LED lighting a heat pump heater and the structure is made of recycled materials. And you won’t believe it but there is 20% less advertising space on the outside.
We asked Jim about the life of a Paris Kiosk kiosquier.
FUSAC: How did you get into the kiosk business?
Jim: I worked part time in a kiosk in the mid 80s with a photography development job on the side and took over this location almost 20 years ago. I had always liked kiosks and the people that ran them. They are the first local contact upon your arrival in a new place, helpful people, in the know. And passersby sure do ask some funny questions, real howlers!
FUSAC: How do you survive working outdoors all year long?
Jim: Things have gotten easier with the new structure, but 20 years ago, this location was sitting empty, no one wanted it because there are 5 kiosks on this intersection, but I saw some aspects I liked. In addition to the large open space in front, the kiosk faces south, so in the winter I have the most possible sunlight all day, then there is the space heater. In the summer there is shade. Really though I like being in close touch with the elements. The extremes aren’t much fun, but it is rare that it’s too hot or too cold. The pay is not great, but I can make my own hours and my own rhythm. I can even bring my daughters’ chocolate lab to work when I want, his name is Keiko.
FUSAC: We first interviewed you back in 2009 you mentioned that your chief characteristic was “method”. At the time you had to have method to pack everything up into the 3m² space of the closed kiosk every night and yet every morning be able to find the title a customer was looking for in a flash even if there was just one copy. Do you still use the same method in your new modern kiosk which goes from 16m² when open to 12m² when closed?
Jim: Before it could take an hour and a half to put everything away, now I can close up in 15 minutes!
JIM’S Paris Kiosk
At the intersection of avenue du General Leclerc, avenue Jean Moulin and rue d’Alésia (Place Hélène et Victor Basch), Paris 14th