SOS: Save Our Strand

By: Shayna Herszage  |  November 1, 2020

By Shayna Herszage, Managing Editor

As an avid reader, one of my favorite spaces in Manhattan is The Strand Bookstore located at Broadway and East 12th St. The bookstore features three floors of standard new and used books for purchase as well as a floor of rare books. In a concrete city that is always busy, The Strand is a breath of fresh, book-scented air.

Unfortunately, this oasis, which boasts 18 miles of books, is now in danger of closing its doors after 93 years. On Friday, October 23, Nancy Bass-Wyden, The Strand’s third-generation owner, posted a plea on Twitter asking for people to support the iconic bookstore. 

According to Bass-Wyden, The Strand’s revenue has been down nearly 70% since 2019, largely due to COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has primarily caused losses due to two factors. Firstly, the loss of tourism in New York and the reduction of in-person interactions have caused the usual flood of in-person customers to cease. Secondly, The Strand is known for holding many in-person events — which have all been brought to a stop in the face of the pandemic. These two factors have rendered the store nearly empty and, as a result, lacking its typical source of revenue.

At the beginning of the pandemic, The Strand was sustained through paycheck protection funds, or PPPs. Additionally, many staff members were laid off due to the financial hit of the initial onset of the pandemic. These precautions helped The Strand to stay open during the first several months of the pandemic. In fact, The Strand even opened up a second location over the summer on the Upper West Side. 

Overall, many were shocked and dismayed by Bass-Wyden’s Twitter statement, considering last year’s controversial decision to give the flagship building landmark status, this year’s new location, and the bookstore’s general popularity over the past several decades.

Bass-Wyden expressed that, after 93 years and three generations of The Strand existing in New York, she hopes that this will not be the bookstore’s downfall. “We’ve survived just about everything for 93 years. The Great Depression, two world wars, big box bookstores, ebooks and online behemoths. We are the last of the 48 bookstores still standing from 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row.”

In her Twitter posts, Bass-Wyden stated that the way to help save The Strand is to purchase books from its online and physical stores. Despite the financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, enough support from the global community can hopefully keep The Strand’s doors open.