"I grew up in the Strand": Iconic New York bookstore pens plea for help amid pandemic

Famed bookstore's revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Iconic NYC bookstore pens plea for help amid pandemic
A New York bookstore has survived the Great Depression and two World Wars, but are now in danger of going out of business due to the pandemic.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A New York bookstore has survived the Great Depression and two World Wars, but are now in danger of going out of business due to the pandemic.

A personal plea from famed independent bookstore, "The Strand," about their draining financial reserves amid the pandemic - asking the public for their support, encouraging customers to buy their wares.

Friday afternoon Strand put out a letter from proprietor Nancy Bass Wyden, writing in her appeal - that their revenue "has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year."

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"While the loan we were given and our cash reserves allowed us to weather the past eight months of losses, we are now at a turning point where our business is unstable," Bass Wyden said.

The shop has been an historic part of New York culture for decades. Now, Bass Wyden says, their survival is uncertain.

"We've survived just about everything for 93 years -- the Great Depression, two World Wars big box bookstores, e-book and online behemoths," Wyden said. "We are the last of the original 48 bookstores still standing from 4th Avenue's famous Book Row. Because of the impact of Covid-19, we cannot survive in the huge decline in foot-traffic, a near complete loss of tourism, and zero in-store events (compared to 400 events pre-pandemic.)"

It's yet another indicator of COVID-19's strain on small businesses. But for New Yorkers - and for bibliophiles the world over - this is an iconic & dearly loved shop, and a real emblem of the economic fallout felt by so many.

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"I grew up in the Strand, or at least that's the way it felt to me. I remember the old floorboards clacking under my Mary Janes, the ghostly grey walls the magical delight when I found the candy colored books gracing the wooden children's shelves," she writes. "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. It hurts to write this, but that is the predicament that we are in right now."

Bass Wyden inherited the shop from her father, now in the family's hands for three generations (she is also the wife of Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden.)

The Strand attached their plea for help in a Tweet on Friday.


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