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Number of locations
|1 store, 2 kiosks, 1 pop-up|
|New York metropolitan area|
|Products||New, used and rare books|
|Owner||Nancy Bass Wyden|
Number of employees
The Strand Bookstore is an independent bookstore located at 828 Broadway, at the corner of East 12th Street in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, two blocks south of Union Square. In addition to the main location, the store's Central Park kiosk is open on fair weather days at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 60th Street. The company's slogan is "18 Miles Of Books", as featured on its stickers, T-shirts, and other merchandise. In 2016, The New York Times called The Strand "the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores."
The Strand is a family-owned business with more than 230 employees. Many Lower East Side artists have worked at the store, including two rock musicians of the 1970s: Patti Smith – who claimed not to have liked the experience because it "wasn't very friendly" – and Tom Verlaine, who was fond of the discount book carts sitting outside the store. Other celebrity employees include Neil Winokur, Sam Shephard, Mary Gaitskill, Burt Britton, Luc Sante, Marvin Mondlin, Ken Schles, and Thomas Weatherly Jr.
Besides the main store and the Central Park and Grand Army Plaza kiosks, an additional location, the "Strand Book Annex", opened in the 1980s and was originally located on Front Street in the South Street Seaport complex. It moved in 1996 to Fulton and Gold Streets in the Financial District, but finally closed on September 22, 2008 due to rent increases. A branch in the Flatiron District opened in 2013, and a summer kiosk in Times Square opened in 2016.
In 2005, the main store underwent a major renovation and expansion, with the addition of an elevator, air conditioning, and a re-organization of the floors to make browsing easier for shoppers. It also begin to sell discounted new books and non-book merchandise.
The bookstore had 70,000 books in its early years, which increased by the mid-1960s to 500,000. By the 1990s it had 2.5 million books, which necessitated the renting of a warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. At that time, the oldest book for sale in the Strand is an edition of Magna Moralia, which is priced at $4,500. The most expensive book is a copy of James Joyce's Ulysses at $38,000. While the store continues to boast the slogan, "18 miles of books," they now house over "23 miles" of books.
Benjamin Bass's first bookstore was the Pelican Book Shop on Eighth Street near Greene Street. The store was not a success, and Bass, who was an immigrant from Lithuania, next opened the Strand – named after the street in London – in 1927 with $300 in his own savings and $300 he borrowed; early on, he slept on a cot in the store. The new store was located on Fourth Avenue, which had at the time 48 bookstores, in what was known as "Book Row", which was established as early as 1890, and which started to disappear around the 1930s due to the Great Depression and again in the 1950s, due to rent increases.
Bass's son Fred – who started working in the store when he was 13 years old – took over the business in 1956 and the next year moved the store to the present location at the corner of East 12th Street and Broadway. The store expanded to the entire first floor of the building, and then first three floors in the 1970s. In 1996 Bass bought the building at East 12th Street and Broadway for $8.2 million, by which time the Strand was the largest used bookstore in the world. The store now occupies three and a half floors, with another one and half floors for offices.
Strand also has 2 kiosks, one in Times Square and one in Central Park, and has a pop-up location in the Artists & Fleas market in Soho. They also participate in seasonal holiday markets in Union Square, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle.
Bass's daughter Nancy Bass Wyden – who is married to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon – was the co-owner of the store and ran it since her father's retirement in November 2017. She is now the sole owner, with her father's death in January 2018.
In December 2018, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission held a hearing on the topic of designating The Strand as a city landmark. The owner, Nancy Wyden, objected citing regulatory barriers to further renovations and increased costs of running the business. She also contrasted the treatment of her store to the reception of Amazon HQ2 in New York, saying "I’m not asking for money or a tax rebate, just leave me alone." The commission voted to landmark the building on June 11, stating that it had "lost very few buildings" to mismanagement. The landmarking can be appealed to the New York City Council.
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