by Tashe House
The Strand Bookstore is truly indicative of a New York City experience. It offers history, abundant supply and vast variety.
The indie shop is a third-generation, independent family business. It has been a part of Greenwich Village’s landscape since 1927. Then owner, Benjamin Bass, started the bookstore with $600, half of which was a loan.
“He named his bookstore after the London street where avant-garde writers like Thackeray, Dickens and Mill once gathered and interesting book publishers thrived”
The store became apart of Book Row, which was a stretch of 48 bookstores on six city blocks. These historical facts alone incite interest of the shop before you even go inside.
And there is plenty to see when you walk in. Strand’s 55,000 square feet houses a 2.5 million book collection that consists of used, new and rare books. Its website avows books covering every topic from “philosophy to finance” lining the shelves for 18 miles.
The independent bookstore offers a variety of ways to buy books, some of which are quite creative. For instance, you can hire the shop to create a library for you…in your home. You can also purchase books from their famous outside “dollar carts” or even at a kiosk on 60th street and 5th avenue.
This Greenwich Village bookstore also possesses eclectic niches, such as a rare book room that can be rented out for events. This room bears one of the largest rare book collections in the city. You could also read a book from the Strand’s art book collection, which it boasts of to be the largest in the world.
It stands the only survivor of Book Row and the ownership has been passed down to Ben Bass’ son, Fred. In 1957, the second generation owner relocated the shop around the corner at 12th Street and Broadway, for additional space. A third generation emerged in ownership, Fred’s daughter, Nancy. Who helps him run the 86 year old shop.
There is suspicion that one, if not all of her three children, will follow the family tradition. The Strand family is not just by birthright as it includes its employees, some who have worked there for over 30 years. The family embraces both beloved bibliophiles and local authors, such as Sam Lipsyte, who authored, The Fun Parts.
Much like the city that never sleeps it seems that the staff of the Strand never stops moving and when it comes to customers, is always willing to lend a helping hand. Chock full of information, The Strand staff is definitely a group of people to marvel and be impressed by.
Like most things, The Strand has kept up with the changing times; as one must do when located in one of the most popular cities in the world. The Strand is enduring the changing climate for independent bookstores as commented by the marketing manager, Lilly Wyden,
“Independent bookstores are sadly few and far-between these days but we are always optimistic about our business and that of our peers. Creativity is key”.
Just like our beloved New York City, the Strand continues in a progressive direction, which offers hope to independent bookstores that they can be adored yet again.
Tashe House is a recent graduate of North Carolina Central University where she majored in English with a concentration in writing. She is currently a Publishing intern for Author’s Boutique and she is excited about entering into a Masters program next fall.