The Strand Bookstore laid off “the majority of our staff” due to store closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. Owner Nancy Bass Wyden wrote in a statement, “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.” As of late 2018 the store employed over 230 people, and PW says the layoffs affected 188 people. The store closed a week before the New York state government mandate that went to effect Sunday evening, closing all “non-essential” businesses statewide.
“This is the first time in our history that we have had to have a layoff,” the statement continues. “All our staff have been paid for the week and we are paying out any vacation time due. We are also working with our union and providers to extend health insurance as long as possible. We know it is our booksellers that make The Strand so beloved, so our goal is to get through this so we can rehire every employee as soon as possible.”
Bass notes the store has filed a request with the Governor’s office to be designated an essential business in order to take and fulfill online and phone orders. She concludes, “We strongly believe that our 18 miles of books are a vital resource the world could really use right now.”
Other booksellers also wrote to the governor with a similar request to re-classify bookstores in general, including through a letter started by Greenlight Bookstore co-owner Rebecca Fitting and co-signed by others. But an update to this post concedes that, “The time for making bookstores essential has passed, but some store owners say that, after a period of PAUSE, it might be possible to return to a delivery-only system.”
Separately, Florida’s Books and Books store group has furloughed 85 employees, who will continue to receive healthcare benefits. “So many people have been asking us what they can do to help, and we’re asking all of our customers to transition to our online store and buy through our website,” owner Mitchell Kaplan told the Miami Herald.