• An SOS from the Strand (Gothamist ... Deadline) The plea from owner Nancy Bass Wyden resurfaced recent articles (here and here, for instance) about her continued investment in Amazon... and growing rift with her staff.
• Manhattan's median asking rent fell below $3,000 — to $2,990 — for the first time since 2011 (Streeteasy)
• The East Village is well-represented in this listicle of the city's best Vietnamese restaurants (Eater)
• Catching up with the Mosaic Man (B&B)
• Video shows a male Karen — aka "Daren" — being aggressive on Astor Place after refusing to wear a mask (The Daily Dot)
• East Village teen arrested while live-streaming his climb of the Queensboro Bridge (Queens Daily Eagle ... Gothamist)
• Pinc Louds full-band show on Astor Place TONIGHT (Instagram)
• Penny Arcade stages her new mixed-media performance, "Notes from the Underground," on Friday, Oct. 30 at Pangea on Second Avenue. Find the livestream info here.
Random photo from yesterday at Second Avenue and Sixth Street
Nice to see people writing about Nancy from the Strand finally. I worked there one year for Christmas and she was psychotic. A mean, horrible woman whom everyone was terrified of. It paid less than minimum wage, no breaks and no sitting down on long shifts at all. Store was a misery all because of her and I left after a month of her abuse. Still barely go there to support the place due to her. Bad memories.
Doesn't Strand own the building ? I remember them fighting landmark status some years ago. Maybe they can sell the building and maintain right to stay.
Nancy wants to make Strand a boutique brand. She doesn't care about selling books at all. It's all in the articles linked.
Yeah, the Strand owns the building, and that's why they've resisted being landmarked.
So sorry to hear that about Nancy, but I'm glad I never worked there; I've had a number of really psychotic bosses and would rather not add her to the list.
Sell the building? She has the money to buy all of Union Square and its surroundings.
She owns the building, and she's certainly not impoverished, based on the required public disclosures of her many stock investments (required disclosure b/c she is married to a US Senator). She seems not interested in running a bookstore, and she's free to close it, sell it, or just sell the whole building. And that is a VERY valuable building. I don't understand her current motivation, but it sounds like she just isn't interested in dealing with PEOPLE.
I've now read so many comments in various articles by people who worked there saying what an unpleasant person she is; it makes me NOT want to buy anything there.
I definitely noticed, the last few times I was in there, that Strand-branded merchandise seemed to be proliferating, as if it was more important to "show" that you'd been to the Strand, than that you actually cared anything about books. Absolutely a tourist-y vibe.
After working there for just a month I went back a few times when friends were doing readings there and I actually felt nauseous. Kept thinking I would have to see her or see workers being mistreated. Could not wait to leave. People once gave me a hard time for buying a book at Barnes and Nobles instead of the Strand because the Strand is so "supportive of indie authors" and so non corporate. Had to laugh.
Conceding all this (though noting that tchotkes play a significant role in most bookstores' business these days), are we better off with a big bookstore there, or with more luxury condos? Because those are basically the choices.
She could have shut down long ago and made more money renting this corner to a bank or chain, but she has apparently kept the business going because it was in her family. I don’t get that kind of sentimental thinking. I love books, but it’s a rough business even without a pandemic to deal with. But it’s her choice. To the critics of the merch: The Strand merch is smart and necessary. It’s not enough to sell books. Product lines like bags add to the bottom line, and lots of bookstores, even small shops, are selling branded merch now. And who cares what stocks she owns? There are personal finances and business. There is no law against her making investments. If you have a retirement account, chances are you own Amazon stock.
I knew of someone who worked here. They said it was sheer torture given the amount of flippant and unprofessional behavior towards staff on a daily basis. This person resigned fairly quickly even after going through a grueling vetting process when initially hired. Why make pennies on the dollar following taxes to only be abused and treated like shit? No thanks. And, I am not buying her unconvincing approach in bemoaning financial hardship. Give us a break. This silly woman has more capital and wealth beyond our dreams. To have the audacity to seek community outreach and assistance when many of us are barely struggling to stay afloat, pay rent, afford groceries without much work and little money during a pandemic while watching our corrupt federal government ignore the needs of its citizens, social unrest, not to mention the highest unemployment numbers of our lifetime is downright pathetic. Either pay up, stop complaining about your supposed fiscal disadvantages or sell the business or the building. Perhaps both. It is obvious money can't buy certain wealthy individuals kindness, compassion and/or decency.
What a bunch of naysayers. Well, you’ll be happy when it becomes a Walgreens, I guess.
@5:46pm: Who cares what stocks she owns? Apparently quite a few people! The stocks she owns are of interest for the $$$ value, as in her having purchased btween $60,000 and $200,000 of Amazon stock this summer, along with as much as $500,000 stock in UPS and FedEx, per Gothamist.
Maybe you have far more money than me, but when I "invest" I don't have that kind of dough! Yes, I might own some Amazon stock via retirement fund that's in an Index 500 fund, but that's VERY different from someone who can buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of ONE stock outright.
And for her to invest in Amazon, her"competitor" seems ... I dunno, questionable to me.
BTW, I can understand selling Strand bags/totes BUT beyond that, they're into miscellaneous "brand" merchandise. I remember when the ONLY thing you could buy there, other than books, was a cotton book bag with their name on it.
It's not clear to me that she even WANTS to continue to own/run this place. She inherited it from her father, and he died less than 3 years ago.
I'm sure while he was alive, it was in her interest to go with the appearance (at least) of wanting to carry the business into the future as the next generation - it makes for good publicity, for sure. But her father was a cranky guy (based on my own personal interactions with him over the years), and I guess it wouldn't surprise me that his daughter might be a cranky person, too - and one who might or might not genuinely care about BOOKS and selling books.
Let me put it this way: I have no inside info on her or the Strand, but I won't lose sleep worrying about her financial well-being. She is not destitute or without resources. I have far more concern for the employees there who were laid off.
It sounds like the rude pretentiousness displayed by many of the Strand's shop bottoms (that only exposes them as recent transplants) must be a trickle-down situation. Personally, I find the store to be a cluttered tourist trap with no real commitment to shelf alphabetization, but I sell books there sometimes when EV Books is closed and I'm up for being barked at by insecure retail doofuses. People have to stop being so precious about this place.
"She could have shut down long ago and made more money renting this corner to a bank or chain, but she has apparently kept the business going because it was in her family."
How do you know she could have made more money renting the Strand space? In 2015 Nancy Bass reported income of at least $2.5 million. In any event, she didn't inherit the store until 2018, and it's safe to assume before that her father did not want her to shut down the business he had spent his lifetime nurturing, and which was apparently quite profitable.
I agree that there was always an undercurrent of "what am I doing here" by the staff, which I thought of as a New York attitude, and where else could you find piles of 98 cent proofs? Over the years the balance shifted to new books, and of course shopping online became addictive for unbound bookhounds. There is still the dreck in the carts out front, that I browse for old time's sake now and then.
@11:20am: You say "and it's safe to assume before that her father did not want her to shut down the business he had spent his lifetime nurturing, and which was apparently quite profitable."
That may be totally true. But no one is *required* to carry on a business just b/c one's parent was enamored of that business. There are a million examples of "family dynasties" where one generation of children decided that they didn't want to be part of the business.
The Strand is a great bookstore for anyone who is academically oriented as far as selection and price are concerned. Just the insane amount of scholarly books found on its shelves are like no other and the recently published university press books that go for half price, often in new condition. An academic oriented book that costs $150 retail price would be sold in the Strand for $75. You can't find this scenario anywhere else in America. I have no comment regarding Nancy and how she treats her employees and the current financial state of her business. The Strand Bookstore is just superior in terms of selection of hard to find books for the academic types.
I don’t care what stock she buys with her own money. That’s separate from the business. And there are employees who like their jobs and want to keep the store going. So I am supporting it for them and all of the authors who have events there. It’s also one of the few bookstores with a sizable kids sections. The other indie shops ignore the kids’ market. I don’t even have kids, but I like knowing kids are growing up going to the bookstore.
It's not that she has Amazon stocks, it is that she bought the Amazon stocks from the PPP loans meant to keep her employees.
As for Academia, yes Strand has a good selection of academic books, but how many go to Strand to buy those, plus I doubt Strand is making money on selling academic books. She's more about the brand and merchandising and using the books and legacy of Strand to sell those merchandise an brand. Also, academia is dying, or anything intellectual, much like print or anything tangible such as records. Strand might as well sell books with brunches because those drinks have electrolytes-- we are heading to the future of Idiocracy.
If Nancy is about branding of the Strand and not selling books, it would be a great business idea to offer a franchise of the store in areas where wealthy Manhattanites have left for the pandemic namely the Hamptons and the Hudson Valley. She'll be wealthier because of this and the scenic towns and small cities will see a spike in tourism now that an independent bookstore is in their place which comes out of Manhattan.
There is already another Strand Bookstore on the Upper East Side, why not open another one in the Hamptons or any of the cities and towns north of the city?
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