NEW YORK — The line outside the Strand Bookstore on Friday can be attributed to the coronavirus.

First, the business can only accommodate a limited number of patrons at a time because of state COVID-19 restrictions.

What You Need To Know

  • Strand Bookstore has been open for 93 years and is still a family owned business

  • Nancy Bass Wyden is the third generation of family members to run the bookstore

  • Wyden told the bookstore’s social media followers that their business is down 70% compared to this time last year

  • The drop in sales at Strand is being attributed to a loss of foot traffic and the cancellation of nearly 400 special events at the bookstore

Second, customers came to support the store after learning that the store was suffering financially because of the pandemic. 

"The response has been so wonderful right now. I feel very touched,” said Nancy Bass Wyden, the owner of Strand Bookstore. 

The increase in foot traffic on Friday was also the result of a plea by Wyden asking for the public’s help. Earlier in the day, she posted a letter on social media telling followers that the historic bookstore was in dire straights.


She wrote that their profits were down nearly 70% compared to figures from this time last year. She said the biggest factor has been a catastrophic drop in foot traffic.

“I was really hopeful for September because I thought we have so many schools around us and I thought the students returning back and some of the office were going to return back,” said Wyden.

The bookstore had to cancel about 400 appearances by authors and other special guests. According to Wyden, those special events brought a considerable amount of business into the store.

The bookstore is more than just a business to Wyden. It’s been in her family for three generations and in the neighborhood nearly 100 years.

“We have survived the Great Depression, two World Wars, and 9/11. Not only that, we’ve survived big box stores, e-books, and Amazon, but this COVID-19 has really knocked our socks off,” said Wyden. 

It also has a special place in the hearts of customers. Several NY1 spoke with came to the store because they saw the bookstore needed help. 

“I really appreciate the history of Strand and it has a special place in my heart,” said one woman.

“You can really find some interesting things on the shelf,” said a man who identified himself as Tom.

There was also a drastic spike in traffic on the bookstore’s website on Friday. For the first time ever, the server crashed as customers tried to purchase from Strand’s online store.  

Strand’s customers have a loyalty to the bookstore that seems hard to come by in an age where you can get everything online and delivered directly to your door.

“I would want to encourage people who can shop locally and support the community, because the local stores are the lifeblood of New York and America as a whole,” said another female shopper.

To ensure that the bookstore has a happy ending, Wyden said that they need to see a bump in business between now and New Year's.

She hopes the holiday shopping season will help bring them back from the brink.


Did you know you can now watch, read and stay informed with NY1 wherever and whenever you want? Get the new Spectrum News app here.


Further Coronavirus Coverage

What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19

Who Will Get a Coronavirus Vaccine First — And Who Decides?

How Hospitals Protect Against the Spread of Coronavirus

Coronavirus Likely Spreads Without Symptoms

Coronavirus: The Fight to Breathe

Experts Say Masks Are Still a Must

The Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine

The U.S. May Face a Second Wave of Coronavirus Infections

Cuomo Granted Broad New Powers as New York Tackles Coronavirus