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San Francisco's iconic City Lights bookstore on verge of closing


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https://www.breitbart.com/economy/2020/10/24/democrat-senators-wealthy-wife-pleads-for-help-to-save-nyc-bookstore/

The owner of New York City’s Strand Book Store pleaded with customers Friday to help save the business, saying its revenue dropped by 70 percent because of the pandemic.

“Nancy Bass Wyden, wife of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said loans and cash revenue allowed the bookstore to weather the last eight months but ‘we are now at a turning point where our business is unsustainable,’” according to Fox News.

The report continued:

While many were quick to offer support – including celebrities like Patton Oswalt and Jim Gaffigan – some critics pointed out that Wyden, a millionaire, bought between $60,000 and $200,000 in Amazon stock last June, according to Barron’s. Amazon has been blamed for helping put local bookstores out of business.

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10 hours ago, ghost of miles said:

P.S. Iirc the family that runs the Strand also owns the building. Hopefully that increases their chances of riding out the next few months... while they’ll still be on the hook for property taxes and utilities, at least I assume they’re not paying rent. 

I did not know that. The building is worth tens of millions. East 12th Street and Broadway...can't get more"choice" than this location in all of the sub-Times Square NYC. The building is huge, probably 9 or ten stories.  This puts somewhat of a different angle on this story for me.

12 minutes ago, mjzee said:

https://www.breitbart.com/economy/2020/10/24/democrat-senators-wealthy-wife-pleads-for-help-to-save-nyc-bookstore/

The owner of New York City’s Strand Book Store pleaded with customers Friday to help save the business, saying its revenue dropped by 70 percent because of the pandemic.

“Nancy Bass Wyden, wife of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said loans and cash revenue allowed the bookstore to weather the last eight months but ‘we are now at a turning point where our business is unsustainable,’” according to Fox News.

The report continued:

While many were quick to offer support – including celebrities like Patton Oswalt and Jim Gaffigan – some critics pointed out that Wyden, a millionaire, bought between $60,000 and $200,000 in Amazon stock last June, according to Barron’s. Amazon has been blamed for helping put local bookstores out of business.

From the same article:

A financial disclosure report from 2015 showed that Senator Wyden and his wife earned at least $2.5 million last year, and that did not include Wyden’s Senate salary of $174,000. The lion’s share of the income went to Nancy Bass Wyden. She is also the one who owned most of the assets listed in the report, which are worth at least $8.5 million.

The disclosure report covering 2011 said she had assets worth between $12 million and $56 million from the Strand-related businesses. Nancy Wyden reported earning more than $1 million in 2014 from the bookstore operations and more than $1 million from a related real estate arm.

 

I think this situation requires a further explanation for mere mortals, like myself.

9 hours ago, BFrank said:

Been to the Strand a LOT - when I lived in NYC in the 80s and when I visit. It would be sad to see it close.

Their slogan is "18 Miles Of Books." Maybe if they downsized to "10 Miles" they could make it work! :lol:

It used to be 7 MILES OF BOOKS thirty years back.

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It's not necessarily true that the book store isn't paying rent.  The agency I used to work for purchased their office unit within the building when given the chance, which I could not comprehend because they were locked into the location at a time when there was talk of opening a new office in central Florida and eventually closing the one in Broward. How could they know if it would be easy to rent or sell when that time came?

Then I found out that he bought the unit under a newly formed company so that he still had the rent cost to deduct on the business side, and was paying himself to rent space from himself.

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I just checked the Strand’s Wikipedia entry and it says that Fred Bass—son of the founder, and father of current owner Nancy Bass Wyden—did indeed buy the building for $8.2 million in 1996. Unless he bought it outright, though, the family may still be making monthly mortgage payments on it, especially if they refinanced at some point. On a vastly smaller scale, we have a somewhat similar situation with a wonderful independent bookstore here in Bloomington, the Book Corner, where the owner owns the building as well. 

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Anyone else thinking Nancy Wyden's money came from Daddy or grandpa? Just a guess ...

Anyway I strongly suspect that they could ride this out as long as necessary but want to cash in on the goodwill of the mass of customers they've accumulated and in this day and age they can raise a ton of money with this kind of appeal.

But its obvious to me this is far from the true mom and pop brick & mortar that is in bad shape and barely hanging on.

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12 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

Anyone else thinking Nancy Wyden's money came from Daddy or grandpa? Just a guess ...

Anyway I strongly suspect that they could ride this out as long as necessary but want to cash in on the goodwill of the mass of customers they've accumulated and in this day and age they can raise a ton of money with this kind of appeal.

But its obvious to me this is far from the true mom and pop brick & mortar that is in bad shape and barely hanging on.

Yeah, I read her father's estate was worth around $25 mil. The building is said to be worth $40 mil and appears to be owned free and clear, but I'm sure the property are in excess of $1mil a year.

In April, the Strand was approved for a PPP loan of $1–2 million to retain 212 jobs. Given that those jobs were not actually protected, workers in the store want to know where the money went. According to Bobrowski, Bass Wyden said in a meeting with union stewards in August that she was spending her own money to keep the business afloat. But since early April, federal records show, she’s also bought between $3 million and almost $7.9 million in stock—Senate financial filings, which include spouses’ records, show a range of values, not specific amounts—investing heavily in tech (between $112,007 and $300,000 in Alphabet/Google, between $175,007 and $450,000 in Apple, and between $110,005 and $300,000 in Facebook), fossil fuels (between $15,001 and $50,000 in Exxon Mobil and between $2,002 and $30,000 in Royal Dutch Shell), and medical supplies (between $50,001 and $100,000 in 3M).

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38 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

Anyone else thinking Nancy Wyden's money came from Daddy or grandpa? Just a guess ...

Anyway I strongly suspect that they could ride this out as long as necessary but want to cash in on the goodwill of the mass of customers they've accumulated and in this day and age they can raise a ton of money with this kind of appeal.

But its obvious to me this is far from the true mom and pop brick & mortar that is in bad shape and barely hanging on.

yeah, Strand is fucking people over. I think she's full of shit.

Pushed out a lot of smaller bookstores in that area of NYC as well (or at least contributed to pushing them out) 20+ years ago.

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I didn't mean to turn this into a political discussion. It was more of a lament for yet another NYC icon to go into history, while the City is being sanitized and neutered. Hell, I had no idea who the owner of the Strand was until you guys told me.

This Strand story now stinks reasonably badly for me - https://thebaffler.com/capital-offenses/hanging-by-a-strand-oconnor

Also, in case you, like me, buy books from abebooks.com , they are an Amazon company. I just found that out recently. At least they give an opportunity for independent booksellers to advertise their stocks....

 

 

Edited by Dmitry
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Glad to see that Bluestockings is apparently hanging in there.  I tried to plan a trip to their now-former Allen Street location this past January but ran out of time.  

Seems to me the biggest issue in the Strand story is the PPP loan, if a number of employees were laid off anyway.  (Of course the larger PPP story is a huge mess rife with stories of abuse on a much larger scale, given the lack of oversight that I've read about.)  The Strand may not be your standard "mom and pop" store, but it's been owned and run by the same family for 93 years... so it's not exactly like a corporate behemoth that moved in and leveled the landscape. Btw there's a good documentary about NYC bookstores that my girlfriend and I watched at the beginning of the spring lockdown period:

The Booksellers  

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9 minutes ago, Dmitry said:

I didn't mean to turn this into a political discussion. It was more of a lament for yet another NYC icon to go into history, while the City is being sanitized and neutered. Hell, I had no idea who the owner of the Strand was until you guys told me.

This Strand story now stinks reasonably badly for me - https://thebaffler.com/capital-offenses/hanging-by-a-strand-oconnor

Also, in case you, like me, buy books from abebooks.com , they are an Amazon company. I just found that out recently. At least they give an opportunity for independent booksellers to advertise their stocks....

 

 

Yikes--thanks for that link.  Ironic that her attempts to "brand" the store are undermining what's made it attractive to so many customers for such a long time.  

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38 minutes ago, ghost of miles said:

Glad to see that Bluestockings is apparently hanging in there.  I tried to plan a trip to their now-former Allen Street location this past January but ran out of time.  

Seems to me the biggest issue in the Strand story is the PPP loan, if a number of employees were laid off anyway.  (Of course the larger PPP story is a huge mess rife with stories of abuse on a much larger scale, given the lack of oversight that I've read about.)  The Strand may not be your standard "mom and pop" store, but it's been owned and run by the same family for 93 years... so it's not exactly like a corporate behemoth that moved in and leveled the landscape. Btw there's a good documentary about NYC bookstores that my girlfriend and I watched at the beginning of the spring lockdown period:

The Booksellers  

Me and the missus just watched it yesterday. I had a sad vision as the documentary unraveled...perhaps unintentionally, but the film-maker exposed the doom awaiting the book trade. In my opinion, the real disaster will come in the next decade or two, when the generation of current schoolchildren grows up, and has nothing to offer to their own children. Сhildren and young people don't read books anymore. My own biggest failure is not being able to induce and interest my children in reading. No matter how much i've tried, they are not reading anything other than what's prescribed by their shitty school reading lists, which are fucking atrocious.

 I am afraid that I will have nothing to talk about with them when I will be old, not so long from now. 

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I remember NYC in the early '70's.  There were books being sold everywhere: card stores, newsstands, drug stores (and a real variety of books, not just Harlequin).  Used book stores were everywhere; I still remember that musty, moldy smell upon entering.  The best were the Doubleday bookstores in Manhattan, where they had stacks of great $1 remainder books throughout the store.

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26 minutes ago, mjzee said:

The best were the Doubleday bookstores in Manhattan, where they had stacks of great $1 remainder books throughout the store.

That's my memory too but later, 80s I'd have to guess. My father worked at 5th Ave and 57th, later 6th Ave and 57th. I'd take the train in from CT and spend time just walking down 5th Ave and back to his office, hitting B&N, both Doubledays and Brentano's.  Only later did I end up at the Strand some trips, and by that time a lot of my shopping was music @ HMV and Tower and the Jazz Record Center instead of books.

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1 hour ago, Dmitry said:

My own biggest failure is not being able to induce and interest my children in reading.

We started read to both of ours when they were babies, like, literally infnats. They got used to these things in front of them that had pictures and colors and those word-things. We let them touch them, and as soon as they were old enough to grasp, hold them, board books meant for babies, small things. Do they still make those type things? All through elementary school, our schools had mothly scholastic Book Club order, and we pretty much let them order what they wanted (as a few things we wanted them to have).

Point being, we trained them to associate books with fun, sensory stimulation, and happy-parent voices.

Not a guaranteed outcome, but I'm happy to say that, 30+ years later (has it been that long?!?!?!?!) although neither read books as a hobby anymore, they both do know how to read for comprehension and the presence of mind/intellect to apply logic to the propaganda they get from all over social media.

Close enough for me for these days.

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3 minutes ago, JSngry said:

We started read to both of ours when they were babies, like, literally infnats. They got used to these things in front of them that had pictures and colors and those word-things. We let them touch them, and as soon as they were old enough to grasp, hold them, board books meant for babies, small things. Do they still make those type things? Point being, we trained them to associate books with fun, sensory stimulation, and happy-parent voices.

Not a guaranteed outcome, but I'm happy to say that, 30+ years later (has it been that long?!?!?!?!) although neither read books as a hobby anymore, they both do know how to read for comprehension and the resence of mind/intellect to apply logic to the propaganda they get from all over social media.

Close enough for me for these days.

You are one of the lucky ones.

My daughter[18] just realized that her lack of interest in the written word is costing her big time - her practice SAT scores were significantly weighed down by the low Reading and Writing parts of the test. We are waiting on the results of the real SAT that she took 2 weeks ago. I'm not optimistic. I took a couple of these practice tests , just to see for myself, and they are not written for literacy-challenged.

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It's never too late! 18 is still a teenager!

Also, testing for "learning disabilities" continues to evolve. Some kids don't like to read because of obstacles they don't know exist. I mean, a good story should interest everybody, right?

Reading the way we used to read....maybe it is a thing of the past. But reading itself never goes out of style, or shouldn't. I don't trust anybody who tries to make it otherwise.

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One of the big problems is that the curriculum is not set up for them to read books, and to discuss books in class, but rather to teach them how to pass the exams. I'm sure things have changed since your children were in school, but that's how it is now.

Same goes for the foreign language part of the middle and high school curriculum. It's set up for students to not be actually able to speak a foreign language or at least to comprehend after several semesters, but instead, to pass the tests. Same daughter has an A- in Spanish, but couldn't compose a sentence when were in Spain. No learning disabilities there, they test kids for that up to wazoo. Just an average teenager with an iPhone.

Edited by Dmitry
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'teaching to the test", yes, there was an issue with that even when my kids were in school....fortunately the school district where we were had teachers who worked around that. But it was a bit of a struggle,

"Incentive-based outcomes" sound like a great thing, and for some things they are, but educating children is not one of them.

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