Playboy just isn't the same online, especially after 3 a.m.

But no more will customers browse saucy girlie magazines, Indian Country Today newspapers, arcane collectors guides or romance novels past the stroke of midnight.

After 101 years, DeLauer's will no longer be a super newsstand, or much of a newsstand at all compared with the halcyon analog days when the Internet was fantasy and Oakland residents lined up Sundays to buy The New York Times.

The new owners, who will keep the DeLauer's name, plan to convert the 1310 Broadway store into an Internet cafe with good coffee and more regular hours.

It's the end of a fluorescent-lit, late-night era when Oakland's downtown hummed after sunset.

DeLauer's provided both the hands-on experience of paper and ink, as well as a pastime for the insomniacs, the homeless, the lonely and other lives sustained on caffeine and nicotine.

Prostitutes and drunks and lunatics still gather outside DeLauer's.

On a recent July night, the stream of DeLauer's customers flowed to the rhythm of public transportation — BART trains and AC Transit buses with stops along Broadway in front of the store — in search of a Nature Valley granola bar, a can of Red Bull, a pack of Wrigley's Doublemint gum, a bottle of strawberry Nesquik, several packs of Newport cigarettes.

"Pfew. $5.60," muttered a Newport smoker as she handed cashier Abera Encalo a handful of dollar bills.


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"This the all-nighter stuff," announced Shelkeia Green, who strutted into the store with her sister Makayla Hickman, jiggling in their pink-and-yellow outfits adorned by cheap gold jewelry and shifting the mood of the store with their high-octane, street-teen energy.

The sisters — "We always together" — dwell at DeLauer's between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. "every night," Green said, because the store is warm, has "all the books" and the cashiers "aren't racist."

"Once you're cool to the customers they will come back," Hickman explained like a franchise manager teaching basic business strategies to her trainees.

Even a customer who tried to "return" a pack of cigarettes she didn't buy at DeLauer's was treated according to the store's tradition of even-handedness, which extends to downtown bums, City Hall elites and perverts.

The only time the sliding door at the entrance closes is when customers seem threatening enough to warrant shutting them out, Encalo said.

DeLauer's closed down only twice since 1907, when paper patriarch Charles DeLauer turned two street newsstands into indoor stores inside an 18-foot shop in the Tribune Press building on 12th Street and Broadway.

In 1946, the store was moved to larger quarters at 412 12th St., then 20 years later to today's location.

If you can't get it at DeLauer's you can't get it anywhere, was the motto.

Today, the posters advertising articles in the French gossip magazine Paris Match — Alain Delon: "Le Mal de Vivre," Bridgit Bardot: "Ma Vie. Mes Hommes," an homage to Pope Jean-Paul II — gather dust, remnants of a time when international magazines and papers were chic and available only at newsstands.

"If this place disappears, I will miss it," said Dave Lisovich, who came to DeLauer's as a teen. Now gray-haired, Lisovich leaned an upraised foot against a magazine rack as he thumbed through decorating publications for his sister.

Not much has changed in the past decade, Lisovich said, except the menacing young toughs who swarm like flies around the prostitutes outside the store.

"It's a monument, this store right here," said one of the "young toughs" who didn't seem too sinister. His saucer-size pupils were as inky dark as Lake Merritt at midnight and he turned unsteadily toward the cluster of patrons behind him to plead for an extra 25 cents for a pack of gum.

A man standing in front of a magazine display didn't even raise his eyes from the pages of the nearly impossible-to-find boxing magazine "The Ring," which he comes to DeLauer's once a month to read. "This," Richard Simmons said of DeLauer's, "is perfect to me."

That's all for now, ladies and gentlemen. But if you have a cool shindig, e-mail me at awoodall@bayareanewsgroup.com or visit the Night Owl blog www.ibabuzz.com/nightowl for more events and oddities.