The Strand, New York's historic indie bookstore, sends out call for help in light of pandemic hardship
The Union Square shop's business has become "unsustainable" because of the pandemic.
The Strand Bookstore needs your help.
A staple of New York City that was founded in 1927 by the late Benjamin Bass, the indie bookshop is in danger of closing due to the current conditions caused by the on-going pandemic. Current owner Nancy Bass Wyden sent out a call for help on Friday, stating in an open letter shared on the store's social media pages that "The Strand's revenue has dropped nearly 70 percent compared to last year."
"And while the loan we were given and our cash reserves allowed us to weather the past eight months of losses," she added, "we are now at a turning point where our business is unsustainable."
Wyden cited "the huge decline in foot-traffic, a near complete loss of tourism, and zero in-store events (compared to 400 events pre-pandemic)" for the massive depreciation. She further states that "the next few months will determine the future of The Strand," urging customers to shop online and in-store, and spreading the word to friends.
"As I watched my grandfather and dad working side-by-side evaluating piles of books at the front door buying desk, never did I imagine that the store's financial situation would become so dire that I would have to write friends and devoted customers for help," Wyden says. "It hurts to write this, but that is the predicament we are now in."
The Strand maintains a storied history in NYC as the last remaining bookstore from "Book Row," which saw 48 book shops along Fourth Avenue as far back as 1890. Those stores dwindled over the years due largely to the Great Depression and later rent increases in the city. The Strand now mainly operates two blocks below Union Square on 828 Broadway.
The location has been featured in a number of movies and TV shows, including Julie & Julia, Sex and the City, Six Degrees of Separation, and Remember Me. The store also features prominently in Netflix's upcoming Dash & Lily.
A spokesperson for The Strand told EW over email that the store's website crashed shortly after the letter posted online due to heavy amounts of traffic, but now it is back up and running.
"The response to Nancy's letter has been overwhelming (literally)," a statement reads. "We've seen just an outpouring of love and support from our community. Traffic to the site went up 10x what we usually see at once so we've been doing our best to keep up. The site was down for a bit but should be working now! We'll be making some quick updates to make sure the site can sustain this kind of traffic through the holidays."