Like many independent businesses across the country, the beloved NYC book store the Strand is in trouble. A Greenwich Village fixture since 1927, known worldwide for its “18 miles of books,” the Strand is the single remaining establishment out of 48 bookstores that once ran the length of 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic reducing crucial foot-traffic, store proprietor Nancy Bass Wyden, granddaughter of the store’s original owner, posted a cry for help on Twitter.
In a last-ditch effort to save her beloved family business, Bass Wyden reached out to her customer base with a plea for help. “I’m going to pull out all the stops,” she tweeted, “to keep sharing our mutual love of the printed word. But for the first time in the Strand’s 93-year history, we need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there’s a vaccine.”
The response from the Strand’s loyal clientele came in the form of an avalanche of 25,000 orders over the course of a single weekend that crashed the store’s website and brought in approximately $200,000 in sales. One patron ordered 197 books. That was followed up by round-the-block lines at the store’s flagship location on Broadway and East 12th Street in lower Manhattan when the store opened.
Having suffered heavy financial losses earlier in the year, even with the amazing outpouring of love and a much-needed boost in revenue, the Strand isn’t out of the woods just yet, but Bass Wyden is determined not to give up. Revenue was down 70% since this time last year, the business’ cash reserves had depleted, and the $1 million to $2 million loan the Strand received in government emergency relief in April is running dry.
Bass Wyden started working at the Strand in the mid-’70s, when she was 16, and inherited full ownership of the business, including the building at 828 Broadway, from her father, Fred Bass, after his death in 2017. The bookstore has withstood the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the 9/11 terror attacks, but the pandemic could be its downfall. “As the 3rd generation owner,” she said, “I have tried to imagine what my dad and grandfather would do right now after they spent their entire lives—6 days a week—working at the store. I don’t believe they would want me to give up without a fight.” Bass Wyden said.
“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,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden said in an open letter. “It hurts to write this, but that is the predicament that we are in now.” For the first time since her grandfather founded the store 93 years ago, Bass Wyden said, the time had come to ask customers for help. She’s asking all loyal lovers of the written word to start the holidays early and Shop the Strand to save the Strand.