The Strand, New York’s most legendary bookstore, is breathing a sigh of relief, for now. In late October, Nancy Bass Wyden, the third-generation owner, turned to social media as a last ditch effort to keep from permanently closing Strand’s doors.
A typical day sees about 300 web orders; the influx of online orders following Wyden’s post brought in 25,000 orders, causing Strand’s website to crash. New Yorkers also flocked to the shop’s two locations, in the East Village and the Upper West Side, with lines stretching around the block.
Like other businesses, The Strand has faced significant struggles during the pandemic. As an independent bookstore, around for almost 100 years, The Strand is not new to hardship. It has made it through the Great Depression, World War II, mega-bookstores, and e-commerce. But COVID-19 presented new challenges. Revenue dropped by nearly 70% compared to last year. Various loans and business reserves have been helpful, but Wyden says the store needs to sustain the influx of orders and purchases for long term sustainability.
“When I meet people, they always have a heartwarming story about the magical time they first found a book or went on a first date at the Strand, so I felt like I knew the Strand touches people, but I was absolutely beyond floored at the response the community had to help support us.”Nancy Bass Wyden, The Strand owner