Feel-Good Friday

While there is a lot of awful going on in New York City, there is also a lot of good going on inside Manhattan. After Governor Cuomo shut down the state, legendary businesses like Strand Bookstore were looking down the barrel of bankruptcy.

Then the citizens of the Big Apple stepped in.

As anyone who’s seen the film You’ve Got Mail knows, independent book sellers took a major hit when megastores moved onto the scene. With growing competition from giant online book sellers like Amazon added in, traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores had to rely on their loyal customer base.

One shining example is New York City’s Strand Bookstore, known worldwide for its “18 miles of books.” A Greenwich Village fixture since 1927, the Strand is the single remaining establishment out of 48 bookstores that once ran the length of 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row.

I’ve actually been to Strand with a friend of mine who worked in NYC. The place is enormous, and it’s Nirvana for bookworms like myself.

Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic reducing crucial foot-traffic, store proprietor Nancy Bass Wyden, granddaughter of the store’s original owner, was faced with an awful prospect of having to close the Strand’s doors for good.

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.”

Wait for it…

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 enthusiastic Bronx 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.

Amazing. It would have been a travesty if Strand had to shut their doors, both for the book lovers and those lovers of history.