“Sorry, I am just helping a customer,” says Mohammed Ahmed on the phone. Over the line, I can hear the chime of the cash register at Casa Magazines, Ahmed’s West Village magazine store, and the din of chitchat among customers.

“We are just really busy!” apologizes Happy David, who runs the shop’s Instagram and has helped Ahmed and his comanager, Ali Wasim, navigate their newfound fame.

An apology is far from necessary. The audible cha-ching of a sale at Casa is great news for anyone in the media industry. Since Ahmed took over the store in 1994, Casa Magazines has become a hub for print publications—the sort of place you can bump into members of the media world checking out all that’s new in print. “The people who actually bring the magazines to life shop here. That’s what attracted me to this store,” says David. “It’s a small enough space where you always get to hear everybody, and it’s so exciting because you can see someone react to seeing their first photo shoot come out or you’ll see someone showing their work to the person behind them.”

pCasa Magazines Mohammed Ahmed shows off his favorite page from Valentinos emVlogo Signatureem book an editorial created...

Casa Magazine’s Mohammed Ahmed shows off his favorite page from Valentino’s Vlogo Signature book, an editorial created by photographer Amber Pinkerton and fashion editor Nell Kalonji for Love.

Photo: Courtesy of Casa Magazines

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Casa into an untenable situation. With no e-commerce and no foot traffic, it was another beloved New York institution struggling to keep the lights on. David set up a GoFundMe and a social media campaign in April. So far they have raised almost $30,000 for the store. “It’s like a family,” says Ahmed between sales. “Everybody is helping each other because of COVID. We got together with model agencies and the fashion industry, and they are helping us.”

The latest helping to keep Casa Magazines afloat is Valentino. The brand is releasing its Vlogo Signature book, chronicling the way its logo design has been interpreted by 16 magazines, at Casa Magazines with a store takeover. A portion of proceeds of sales from the book will be donated to Casa Magazines.

pA window showing imagery from the Valentino book at Casa Magazinesp

A window showing imagery from the Valentino book at Casa Magazines

Photo: BFA / Courtesy of Valentino

Lots of people come to Casa for partnerships, but many are turned away. The reason Valentino got Ahmed and Wasim’s stamp of approval is because some of the brand’s New York employees are regular customers. “I think it was Blair [Trader, the director of public relations and advertising] or Bianca [Sleight, the manager of special events and partnerships] who first wrote to us—and they’re actually customers at Casa,” David explains. “Obviously, it was exciting.”

The store’s windows will be papered with imagery from the book, replacing this week’s Joe Biden display. (That’s partly out of necessity—Ahmed and David report that most Biden covers sold out quickly.) Of the many images, Ahmed chooses a picture by photographer Amber Pinkerton and fashion editor Nell Kalonji that ran in Love as his favorite. “This,” David says, pointing to the Polaroid snap with a red heart scrawled on the page, “is so Mohammed. Ali is fond of more of the crazy graphics and overt [style]. Mohammed is a bit more conservative.”

The pair expect the Valentino book to sell well, noting that during the past year, it’s the innovative, thoughtful publications that have performed best. “As long as there is a magazine business, we will be in the business,” assures Ahmed.

Source: vogue.com