They're not vanishing, just moving further east on Bleecker--all the way to Cornelia Street. Their new place at 266 Bleecker, across from the still-vacant Zito's Bakery, is set to open sometime this week. It's shaping up quick, with walls of bookshelves already half-filled and French doors that will open onto the street.
the new place, "bookbook"
Though I'm glad they managed to survive, I'll miss them from Bleecker's western end. There's one day of the week when my travels take me by Biography, and I always stop to browse and often buy among their open-air tables of great books at incredibly low prices.
Luckily, they're not leaving this spot until January, and the two shops will co-exist until then.
Rumors about their move began a year ago, when Kate/Jack Spade announced a takeover of their neighbor's spot. In June, the bookshop confirmed the rumor with signs in the window, posted here.
Biography has occupied this prime corner for nearly 25 years. Since they moved in, their end of Bleecker has gone from warm and neighborly to cool, glassy Rodeo Drive East, packed with multiple copies of Marc Jacobs stores and other high-end chains. In fact, it's Jacobs who will be taking their place next year, right across from the Magnolia Bakery.
Prominently advertised sales of the Sex & the City book helped attract hordes of cupcake munchers into the store--whether they spent any money is a question.
Sex & the City tourists browse between cupcakes & dildos
For awhile, there was hope Biography would stay. In February, the owner told New York, "I talked to our landlord a couple of weeks ago and I said we needed to extend our lease and he didn’t really say no... we both assumed that I wouldn’t be able to afford what Ralph Lauren is affording. Or maybe even they’re not affording it."
But the ubiquitous Marc Jacobs is affording it. Whatever the rent is, it's high. Wrote The Observer, "the new tenants at the former Biography Bookshop can look forward to paying eight times the lease owners Chuck and Carolyn Epstein signed ten years ago," on a street where some retailers are paying $80,000 per month.
Without Biography, there will be no reason left for me to walk down this end of Bleecker--and I am not alone in that sentiment. As one employee told The Observer, "The locals have no reason to walk down this street anymore, I mean, who wants a thousand dollar purse?” (A customer added accurately, "The neighborhood will be a retail wasteland hellhole without them.")
The new location will be bigger and better organized, with an expanded selection. I'd like to say I'll visit all the time, but I rarely pass through that end of Bleecker. My weekly walk--and my bookshelves--will be less alive without them. I'll have to find another path.