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Reading is a sweet idea for newsstand

Chinyere Garner | 4/20/2011, 5 p.m.

Let's say you're a freak for Hip Hop news, and you're looking for a classic copy of The Source, or Slam or XXL.

You might find one at Urban Experience Bookstore & Publications in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall, right next to Toys R Us and the Children's Place on the mall's first level.

Or let's say you have a friend or a loved one in a hospital, nursing home or prison, and you want to send them a magazine or even a copy of one of several free weekly newspapers at the stand.
Urban experience will ship them to any men or women's correctional facility, or nursing home for you.

Or let's say you have a raging sweet tooth that only some old-school confection like Boston Baked Beans can fill. You can get your grub on with all the Chop Sticks, Lemonheads and Ring Pops you can eat, plus many of the more recent candies like Now & Laters.

One any given day, you might find people standing around reading issues of OurWeekly, the Sentinel, L.A. Focus, the Southwest Wave, or the L.A. Watts Times--all well-known African American newspapers covering the city. (Free reading of the magazines is not allowed; they are kept in a glass case.)

"I love reading, but whenever I wanted to get all of the good stuff, I had to go far out," said Tiffany Garrard, who with her husband Kenneth started Urban Experience Bookstore on Aug. 9 last year.

"I used to have to go to different newsstands for the publications I liked. I thought it would be a good idea to have all the urban magazines in one place, right here in our community within our reached."

While Tiffany considered her passion for reading, Kenneth wanted to add a more practical money maker--candy. They put the two ideas together and--Voila!--Urban Experience.

"Here at Urban, when people come to buy magazines they sometimes run into long-lost friends and they have the opportunity to catch up. It really gives you a sense of family and togetherness," said Tiffany.

The Garrards share duties at the kiosk. Kenneth works from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the day, and Tiffany works night till closing.

The newsstand features more than 50 urban titles, including XXL and The Source; business magazines Black Enterprise and Get Money; underground street magazines Don Diva, AS IS, and F.E.D.S.; women's magazines Oprah, Essence and Sister to Sister; a British magazine, Black Hair U.K; the well-known Johnson publications, Jet and Ebony; the alternative newspaper, LA Weekly, and a number of Hispanic publications.

Urban Experience sells books by independent writers and publishers, such as works by Wahida Clark and Derrick Ellis, but also some by well-known authors or celebrities such as Terry McMillan, Steve Harvey and Tyrese. Kenneth Garrard has authored a book called "The Credit Cleansing Kit," which sells for $27.

Because the mall is being renovated, traffic has been slow lately, and that has hurt business. In fact, a few stores have closed down.

However, buyers can purchase many publications online at urbanxbookstore.com, or on Facebook: Urban Experience. The website also offers daily updates on celebrities news, soap operas and various bits of lifestyle news and social issues.