New York’s most famous bookstore may have a shot at staying open, and it’s all thanks to fans who placed orders on their website or waited in long lines to support the business.
The Strand made $170,550 in sales last Saturday and Sunday, days after owner Nancy Bass Wyden posted on Facebook and Twitter asking for help. Like other businesses, The independent bookstore has been struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic. In September, it lost $316,000 in sales, she said.
“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,” Wyden, the bookstore’s third-generation owner, told CNN.
The Strand’s website crashed on Saturday for the first time ever due to overwhelming demand, she said. The bookstore received 25,000 orders that weekend alone, she said. The business typically receives about 300 daily web orders.
Over the weekend, lines stretched around the block as people waited patiently to visit the Strand’s two locations in the East Village and Upper West Side, and at some point there were more than 200 people waiting to buy books, according to Wyden.
People ordered books, gift cards, presents for the holidays and subscription boxes. One person bought pizza for the entire staff while other people offered to work for free. A stranger sent Wyden some lilies.
A woman from the Bronx purchased 197 books, and 21 people have asked the Strand to design their home libraries, she said.
“I feel enveloped in a tidal wave of love,” Wyden said.
“Of course I’m so elated, but I want this to be sustainable and I am still really worried. We need people to keep ordering from us,” she added.
The Strand has been in business for nearly a century, boasting about its “18 Miles of Books” and earning a diehard following from locals and tourists.
Founded in 1927, it survived the Great Depression, World War II, Big Box stores and e-commerce challengers. But the owner says the store – known for its seemingly endless stock of used and rare titles – could become a casualty of the coronavirus.
“The Strand’s revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year. And while the PPP 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 unsustainable,” Wyden said in a news release last week.
Although the bookstore has received an outpouring of support, Wyden says sales need to remain strong for the business to remain open.
CNN’s Jay Croft contributed to this report.