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Hinsdale News Agency Still a Downtown Sweetspot After 59 Years

With classic candies and a stable of regular customers, the family-owned newsstand is has managed to keep its old-fashioned model in a high-tech world.

When a business is around for 59 years, it means it has regulars.

“Every day like clockwork,” Hinsdale News Agency manager Penny Miller describes visits from the store’s frequent customers, who visit 24 E. Hinsdale Ave. to pick up a newspaper, a pack of cigarettes, or maybe just a candy bar.

The downtown Hinsdale newsstand has been serving the community since owner Danette Boniecki’s grandfather, Daniel Spinazola Sr., opened the store in October 1953. Daniel Spinazola Jr., Boniecki’s father and 60-year Hinsdale resident, ran the stand for many years before passing it on to his daughter, who has worked shifts since she was a kid living in Hinsdale.

“Back years ago we were open until 10 at night,” Boniecki said, explaining that the employees would get an hour for dinner. “My dad would come down and work that hour shift and I’d get to come down and sit, and the excitement at that point was to eat a bag of M&Ms.”

These days, the store is open 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday.

“On Fridays, you can’t move in here,” Miller said. “The kids come and its wall-to-wall. It’s a Friday hangout.”

When a business is around for 59 years, it means it’s had to go through some changes.

Hinsdale News Agency originally operated as a Chicago Tribune distribution center. The Trib would drop off all of Hinsdale’s editions at Hinsdale News Agency, which had paperboys and girls that would deliver them out to the subscribers around town.

In the mid-1980s, Boniecki said, the newspaper began delivering all of its subscriptions on its own, eliminating one aspect of Hinsdale News Agency’s business.

Good thing they had candy. Lots of candy.

“Nostalgic candy,” Miller calls the store’s collection.

In addition to today’s standard candy options, Hinsdale News Agency’s candy bins and jars are filled with Sky Bars, Boston Baked Beans, Goo Goo Clusters, Cinnamon Hot Dog Gum, BB Bats, Big Hunks, and many other classics.

Every month or so, Boniecki and Miller, who both grew up in Hinsdale but did not know one anther until Miller started with the store six years ago, handpick the candy they want to sell.

“We sit for a good two hours every time the companies come out with a catalogue and hash it over,” Boniecki said.

The store’s candy selection brings customers from outside of Hinsdale, Boniecki said, from Oak Brook to Orland Park, and is the main reason behind the aforementioned Friday afternoon rush.

The store also provides for weddings, showers, birthday parties, and even a recent funeral. (They supplied the deceased’s favorite candy.)

Boniecki and Miller said Hinsdale News Agency aims to stay old-fashioned—no website, no email, no Facebook page. That aim can pose challenges.

“Newspaper readership has definitely changed,” Boniecki said, “and the economy has definitely changed business.”

But that doesn’t mean the newsstand is going anywhere. In fact, Boniecki and Miller said a 60th anniversary celebration for next October is “in the works.”

When a business is around for 59 years, it means it’s a part of people’s lives.

“When you’re in a community for so long, you become their family, too,” Miller said. “They become our family.”

“But nobody invited us over for Thanksgiving,” Boniecki replied.

Joe O'Donnell November 16, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Wasn't able to mention him in the story, but I did tell Danette and Penny that I'd mention Martin Pusemp, who lived above Hinsdale News Agency and worked there as a clerk for more than 30 years. He passed away in 2009. Danette and Penny said Pusemp, who loved chatting up customers, worked at the top right up until his final days.
Debbie Feiler November 16, 2012 at 07:17 PM
What a nice story! Dannette you and your family should be proud. It's very hard to work in a family business and with the way things have changed I'm so happy to hear that you keep some things just the way they should be - simple! Hope I hear about that 60th Anniversary Celebration, cause us old timers will want to stop by! Blessings in the coming years! Debbie Feiler (Fuller)
heidi swatscheno November 17, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Martin Was a wonderful addition to the news agency and he made going there worth it. he knew everyone and never had anything but a smile on his face he sure is missed.

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