The Strand has become the latest independent bookstore in New York City to lay off a majority of employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"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 in a statement on Sunday. “This is the first time in our history that we have had to have a layoff."
Wyden said that staff have been paid for this week, and they are paying out any vacation or time due they've accrued. “We are also working with our union and our providers to extend health insurance as long as possible,” she added.
You can read the full statement below.
The book seller confirmed to Gothamist that 188 employees had been laid off, with only 24 remaining on staff for now. They stressed that the layoffs are temporary and the goal is to hire everyone back when able.
“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,” wrote Wyden. “After a century of beating the odds, we won’t give up now.” Wyden owns the building where The Strand is housed, inheriting it from her father.
Last week, The Strand announced that they would begin taking online orders and start shipping books out as of today. However, that plan has been put on hold because of Governor Andrew Cuomo's PAUSE plan, which went into effect on Sunday night.
"Unfortunately with PAUSE enacted we can't ship anything out of the store," said Strand spokesperson James Case Odum. "We have filed the paperwork in hopes of being designated an essential business, for the sole purpose of getting our online business back up and running."
Also last week, several other independent booksellers began shutting down their stores and laying off employees, including McNally Jackson, which laid off almost 80 employees, and Book Culture, which laid off 25 people.
Just over a month ago, The Strand had announced plans to open up a new location inside the old Book Culture location on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. Wyden did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the status of that expansion plan.