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Call it instinct, or a second sight: Graydon Carter claims he knows a reader when he sees one. While scanning the streets of Manhattan’s West Village this week, Mr. Carter said pointedly, “In this part of the city, you’ll have many more readers than nonreaders.”

That may be why he chose a stretch of Hudson Street in the Village as the site of a new retail venture, Air Mail Newsstand, which is an extension of the digital newsletter, Air Mail, he started in 2019 with Alessandra Stanley.

The shop arrived in Manhattan after Air Mail opened others in London and Milan. Its merchandise, like the newsletter it is named after, is meant to appeal to an urbane crowd.

A rigorously edited selection of books and high-end glossies like “The World of Interiors,” “Kinfolk” and “Beauty Papers” is supplemented by various novelties with a statusy, you-can-only-find-it-here appeal. Say, a curly brass shoehorn ($145); a palm-tree-patterned Chez Dede lampshade ($345); old-fashioned typewriter paper ($15); or an Air Mail logo baseball cap ($30) like the one Larry David wears in recent episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Is Mr. Carter, Vanity Fair’s former editor in chief, adopting a new identity as a shopkeeper? Not quite. But “there is a merchant inside everybody,” he said unflappably.

He sees retail as an inevitable adjunct to publishing, a symbiosis that has also been recognized by brands like Monocle, which had a shop in the West Village, and by Highsnobiety, a sneaker blog that evolved to include an online store and a twice-yearly publication that won the National Magazine Award for general excellence this year.

“In a magazine you can’t just sell ideas,” Mr. Carter, 74, said. “If you recommend a book you want to help the reader find that book. If you’re writing about a TV show, you tell the reader where it’s streaming.”

Air Mail Newsstand, which is inside a 1905 rowhouse, has honey-oak floors, brass finishings and a mirrored bar that serves oddly tangy coffee. Magazines are displayed at the front of the shop and a rotating selection of books is at the rear; at the moment, 100 titles are gathered under the heading, “Female Authors, Past and Present,” a highbrow grouping including works by Jane Smiley, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel and Daphne du Maurier.

The shop was designed by Basil Walter, an architect who worked with Mr. Carter to develop the Waverly Inn, his restaurant in the West Village, and spaces where Mr. Carter hosted parties as the editor of Vanity Fair.

Like the canniest of merchants, Mr. Carter is himself a well-informed and unabashedly zealous shopper. Air Mail Newsstand’s selection of CBD-infused elixirs, lapel pins and other goods — like many of the items featured on the newsletter’s e-commerce arm, Air Supply — is “based on things we’ve tried out and like,” he said.

Mr. Carter, while seated at a table at the rear of the shop on Tuesday, pulled out an object as flat and trim as a credit card. “This is an amazing tape recorder,” he said with the candid delight of a boy discovering his first Erector Set. The device, which costs $159, is sold at Air Mail Newsstand and, Mr. Carter explained, can connect to a smartphone.

He acknowledged that it seemed counterintuitive for a digital publication to open a newsstand-style shop — especially as both print magazines and traditional newsstands have been on the decline. But Mr. Carter is undaunted. “We love print, obviously,” he said.

Air Mail has occasionally published print versions of the newsletter and an annual or biannual print product is no pipe dream. “We’ll do print at some point,” Mr. Carter said.

“But we only have so many hours in a day, and I’m retired — well not really retired,” he conceded with a touch of faux regret. “I should be playing golf right now.”



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