The Strand Bookstore, New York’s landmark East Village bookseller, has laid off the bulk of its staff after having to shut its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, the store’s owner announced Monday.
“In order to preserve The Strand as a business, with no revenue coming in and no clear idea as to when we can reopen our doors, we have had to temporarily lay off the majority of our staff,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden said on Twitter.
“Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, we made the decision to close our doors a week before the government mandate, as we felt it was unsafe for our staff and community for us to keep operating,” Wyden wrote. “This is the first time in our history that we have had to have a layoff.”
The iconic book store, founded by Wyden’s grandfather in 1927, nixed 188 employees and kept just 24 on the payroll, according to a report in Gothamist.
The store announced last week that it would take online orders and deliver books to customers.
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call last week to shut down all non-essential businesses — a statewide lockdown that went into effect Sunday night — nixed that plan, Gothamist reported.
“The Strand has survived catastrophes, from the Great Depression to 9/11, and weathered the schisms in the book industry that many predicted would put us out of business,” the statement said. “After a century of beating the odds, we won’t give up now.”
A Strand spokesman told the news outlet that it had filed a request with the state to be designated an essential business to keep operating but has not received a response.
The store is just the latest independent book peddler in the Big Apple to cut staffing amid concerns over the spread of the deadly bug.
McNally Jackson announced on Twitter last week that it was laying off employees at its two Manhattan stores and its just-opened location in Downtown Brooklyn due to the virus — nearly 80 staffers.
“We are maintaining staff health insurance for the time being so there is no disruption for medical coverage, and working to extend this coverage as long as we can,” the store said. “These layoffs are temporary. We intend to hire back our employees as soon as we can.”
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