St. Mark’s Bookstore Crisis (possibly averted due to supporters)   Leave a comment

Thanks again for my friend Matthew Ross for bringing this story

to my attention, although I’d already been aware the past two years

or so of the St. Mark’s Bookshop crisis, which revolved around not

only lower sales, traffic, but particularly, apparently, around the

dispute with gargantuan landlords of theirs NYU or Cooper Union

or whoever it was, raising the rents on them so much that they

would never be able to stay at their current location on 3rd Ave.,

which they’ been at for many years now.  I don’t get much of

a chance to frequent that shop these days, living back on Long

Island again, but I used to spend a lot of time in that shop,

which is great especially for fiction, alternative and indie

nonfiction and hard-to-find obscure titles and such on all

subjects, some great remainder tables, and their magazine

and ‘zine section is always worth a look, as well as their

quite serious section of art books.  St. Mark’s is a small

shop but for what it specializes in it’s still as good as it was

many years ago, or nearly so.  I’m glad to hear they might’ve

raised these necessary funds to relocate the shop and

continue operations, I fervently hope so.   Otherwise,

that area will lose yet another great indie shop and

we’ll have a St. Mark’s Place with that icky McDonald’s,

a ghost of the once-great bar/club Continental,

maybe St. Mark’s Comics (IF it’s still going?),

and million dollar condos and 5000 Asian fusion

noodle restaurants and cafes.  I wonder if I could

even get a decent falafel sandwich over on St. Mark’s

anymore?   Probably not.  I was over there a few times

a couple of years ago, and it was chock full of

new intriguing restaurants and punk/glam clothing

boutique mecca Trash And Vaudeville

was still there (amazingly, though I never liked that

place that much always being the overpriced attitude-laden

tourist trap it had been for ages, maybe forever) but

otherwise the street is not what it once was.

As Paul Weller and The Jam once sang about another

street in London:  “Carnaby Street/Not what it used to be.”

Same with St. Mark’s Place, or the whole NYC for that matter.

Personally, I think St. Mark’s Bookshop would do much better

in Williamsburg or Greenpoint, Brooklyn these days,

the field there is still wide open for such shops, but

then again if they do that then Manhattan will lose out

and particularly, the primary neighborhood that the shop

thrived in and cultivated for so many years.  So that in itself

would be a double-edged sword to say the least.  I also

wonder how the shop is going to be able to find a more

affordable location given that the real estate market in NYC

(or the outer boroughs, or even L.I. or N.J.) is so absurdly

sky-high these days that only megacorps or shops like

Macy’s or Uniqlo or Urban Outfitters or Armani and other

such mega-rich chains or corporate concerns can really

afford to operate in Manhattan and make any kind of

a profit.  It’s going to be a challenge to find an “affordable”

location and that’s putting it mildly.   One indie shop

The Downtown Music Gallery moved to Chinatown

about four years ago and has not been heard from since:

supposedly the tiny shop (which is quite excellent

esp. for hard to find and alternative music of all stripes,

and is well worth tracking down if still extant) is still

open but only by appointment now and for limited hours.

They might’ve snagged a cheaper location but I dunno

how many are going to schlep down to NYC’s Chinatown

just to seek out the place, as good a specialty shop as it was/is.

I haven’t and I’m a huge fan of the shop, although then again,

I don’t live in NYC anymore.




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