Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Revolution Books

Revolution Books on West 26th Street is fighting for its life. They're trying to raise $40,000 to keep their lease.


erin m's flickr

Opened circa 1979, they moved to W. 26th Street after losing their old spot on W. 19th in 2008. At that time, they signed a 5-year lease for $69 a square foot.

Now, on their Facebook event page, they write: "Revolution Books' lease is up early next year. Major rent increases have already kicked in. We need you to help pull out all the stops to raise the funds, bring more people into the store, get the store out into the public square and parks this summer. Revolution Books is more than a bookstore -- it is a cause and a movement. It needs your generous financial donation now, and your help in building a much larger base of support."

The tipster who let us know about this says, "I live next door and it is the only antidote to the frattiness of the neighborhood. Would be heartbroken if it closes. Perhaps you can get people to go buy if you posted on your blog?"

Go buy some revolutionary books, people! And you can also make a donation here.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

We must fight against skyrocketing rent!! We can't keep pouring money into these greedy landlords pockets to keep our beloved bookstores open!! I don't know how as much as it feels great to donate to this cause, it's to pay the landlord the outrageous rent.
When our bookstores are under attack, what do we do? STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!! Not with money bombs, but with our bodies.

Brendan said...

Maybe this is defeatist. But why NOT move to a neighborhood where they'd be more welcome, rather than being a lone antidote to frattiness? They could pay less rent, do better business, reach more people, and be more integrated into their community. What's the downside?

Marty Wombacher said...

Sad to see another local book store fighting for its life, I'll stop by and buy a book or two this week.

Caleo said...

I agree with Brendan. The same goes for St. Marks Books. If you need to take out a $250,000 loan, that means you can't reasonably survive in that space. Why are these stores so averse to moving ? I know for a fact that commercial spaces exist in the EV for half of what St. Marks is currently paying. That would pretty much solve many of their problems.
Yes, it's a pain in the ass, although I'm sure plenty of volunteers would be glad to offer their time to help move in both cases.
Donations and money bombs just feed the landlord that is screwing them. The best revenge is to move to an affordable space in a neighborhood that cares, and such spaces do exist on the LES.
My advice to Revolution Books is to MOVE.
Why are these stores pretending they have no other option ?

Ed said...

In response to Brendan, there may not be a better neighborhood at this point. The cultural niche that Revolution Books occupied seems to be completely disappearing.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Moving can kill a business. When Bloomberg took the property of Arnold Hatters to give to the NY Times, the third-generation shop moved just 3 blocks away. Their business dropped by 40%. A few years later, they shuttered and the spot is now a 7-11.

When 12th Street Books moved to Brooklyn to become Atlantic Books, they soon folded.

There is no safe place for these businesses to go--where their clientele will follow and where they can find affordable rent. In Bloomberg's city, only certain types of businesses can survive--luxury, trendy, and/or national chains.

Brendan said...

Staying put can also kill businesses. It depends entirely on the individual situation. The question is what's best for this particular store. It's hard to see how it wouldn't do better moving somewhere with much cheaper rent where more of its clientele are likely to live nearby.

I disagree with Ed that the cultural niche is disappearing. This city is still a center of the intellectual left, in the universities and various smaller publications (Dissent, n+1, etc.). And what about Occupy Wall Street? You're just not going to find any of that in or around Chelsea.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jeremiah Moss, moving is 1. bad for business in almost every case, and 2. there really aren't any "affordable" locations in NYC anymore.

So we have a couple options, stand back and watch as our beloved city is taken over with chain stores that can afford to have a flagship here. Or we can get together and figure out how to organize against these outrageous skyrocketing rents. Soon the only commercial businesses we will see will be big banks, Duane Reades, Starbucks, and all those gross chain food places.

It's anonymous again :)

laura said...

here it is: you buy minutes for your "cell phone". but first you stop @ the "bank". then you get your soda @ "7/11". then you spend 25 minutes walking around "duane reade" to find the bars of soap. but thats ok because you are on your "cell phone" most of the time. you may be @ work later, but you can always go downstairs & repeat the above scenario. (& the option of a coffee to go from starbucks). see how easy the corporations can shape your life? & they make it so easy, just follow the leader. oh yes, after work.......repeat after me, go to the cash machine .......

Kyle Nichols said...

problem with this town is we own the culture, just not the orifaces it populates. let the ultra rich pick the carcass of culture they've cluelessly decimated in "the city". i applaud any business for putting up a fight but seeking donations to the sum of 250k is really reaching. it's not an incredibly lofty sum but if "revolutionaries" have that sort of dough to toss around they might not be the 99% after all. am i misguided in accepting that manhattan by and large is where folks primarily go to "consume" & not create now? might be time to be a realist, give up this "how could this happen?!?!" mentality and migrate to a borough or another city that doesnt perpetually canabalize itself.

Anonymous said...

Having Revolution Bookstore move is exactly what the Bloomturd admin. is hoping for. No different than a mom and pop shop being pushed out by a chain or that Midwesterner gentrifiers do to the natives. Only those Midwesterner gentrifiers would suggest as such so that they can be in the image of Bloomberg as that vain mayor would like his city to be.

laura said...

come on. time to move to brooklyn. as i said in other posts, my friends love it. they were born there & they are back. this box store & cell phone thing will be all over, but maybe less there? maybe more small businesses?

Claribel said...

Just to clarify, it's a $250,000 grant, not a loan, aimed specifically at small businesses. It would be foolish not to apply. 12 businesses will be awarded the grant and if St Mark's can make a persuasive case for using the grant money to boost sales long term, then they're entitled to it.

I've moved several times in my life--as a resident, not a business owner--and the cost and effort are definitely a pain. And moving the books--girlfriend, don't even get me started! ;) For me, it was always worth doing. However, I'd find it hard to believe that a small business owner doesn't weigh the risks of staying vs moving. Moving is a huge risk financially. We're all guessing the financial potential of other neighborhoods that are equally fluid and still vulnerable to rent hikes. If you've been in business for years, it's very hard to be entrepreneurial all of sudden in a tough economy. It's facing the unknown vs what you already know. It's natural to want to be conservative and stay put. Isn't that the mentality that's keeping the economy in its sluggish pace right now? Beyond the rent being cheaper for a few years, none of us can really guarantee that the financial cost and risks of Revolution Books moving to a new neighborhood will pay off, i.e. it will translate into enough real sales to justify the move. And of course, if it doesn't, the easy hindsight reply will be that they picked the wrong neighborhood.

I'm more sympathetic to Ed's comment. They've got an attractive web site and maybe should focus on internet sales to expand on their niche. Who knows. Brendan, I don't think OWS is a great example. You may not find them in Chelsea, but in terms of real foot traffic, it's not like they're all residing in Fort Greene or Flatbush (insert neighborhood here) either.

Claribel said...

Also, I have to say that given what's happened to Chelsea, Revolution Books makes a much better statement staying put than moving out of sight and out of mind for the mall shoppers and newer residents there.

Dave Semple said...

I agree with those who want the bookstore to stay put. It's not about business acumen and community integration. It's about parasite landlords. Occupy the place. Talk to your local union chapters. Talk to David Harvey over at CUNY, where he lectures on this urban apartheid. Talk to Socialist Alternative USA. Talk to the people involved in the Wall Street occupations. And when the place is occupied, maybe the landlord will agree a much more equitable rent.

Brendan said...

Once the place is occupied, everyone in it will go to jail.

You can't fight a police state physically (and if anyone doubts that we live in a literal police state, see this morning's article in the Times on stop and frisk). You might be able to fight with words and ideas, though.

Caleo said...

To all those saying there are no longer affordable commercial spaces in the city... you are wrong.
And yes, moving is a risk... but so is staying put in a space you can't afford to the point where you need a constant round of donations and money bombs and grants and loans.
St. Marks has moved before, and so has Revolution.
Options, other than grants and loans, exist.

laura said...

david semple: are you suggesting taking over a building illegally? stealing it to blackmail the landlord? what kind of lawless facist are you? they have a lease, if they can not get a better rent than they need to move. its a business, not an elderly person who is being pushed out (who should be compensated)`. you are exactly like the people you complain about. also if they dont leave after a reasonable amount of time, than the court marshall comes. they remove the possessions. if their the clientele is not there, than i dont see the reason for the store to stay. friends of mine had a store in boston for 18 years. the street traffic changed as the area did. the business fell, finally they closed. most small businesses closed as well.

Anonymous said...

Revolution Books is not just a bookstore. It is a center for a kind of discussion that is far too rare in our city, and our world. They produce countless programs in a fight to spread the message that the status quo is NOT inevitable. They reach out to, and support marginalized communities of all sorts, in ways that we all know we should, but rarely do. And they are really nice people.

chris flash said...

Caleo is right -- there are plenty of vacant storefronts right here in the LES, where Rev Books would find a very receptive audience.

Though I do not share their political views (the store is run by members of the "Revolutionary Communist Party"), I'm damned glad that they exist and provide radical books, magazines and information that you will NOT see anywhere else. They need to be HERE, not in Brooklyn or somewhere else. They should at least look into moving vs wasting money to fight or line a landlord's pockets with money they raise.

Anonymous said...

I never got why that store was in that particular neighborhood even 15 years ago. They are supposed to be for the workers (i.e., blue collar workers). So why not move to Queens or SE Brooklyn where people who work for a living actually live?

I like the shop, some decent speakers and what not, but again maybe if they moved to Jamaica or something they'd get a few customers from the class they claim to serve.

laura said...

if they are communists they are dangerous & exactly the same as the landlords they complain about. except the landlords are more upfront. these people are sneaky. just as well they are broke. i suppose they do have the clientele where they are, no one can speculate.

Brendan said...

I can see both sides. I can definitely understand not wanting to just cede Manhattan to the barbarians. At the same time, this store would be great for, say, Bushwick, and the rent would be NOTHING compared to what it is now.

Anonymous said...

Yea, there are vacant storefronts in the LES/downtown 'aight that only the chains, luxe boutiques, or bars can afford and to whom only the greedy landlords would rent or lease to. They'd be paying as much or more if they move in this new tech hub of LES. Can't win in Bloomturd's administration, unless you're rich and esp. young, white, attractive, and a tech start-up. Can't wait for the next dotcom crash to wipe the smugness of Bloomturd's regime and his minions. And when that happens who's left to pick-up the mess, certainly not these adultlescents who will be going back to their mommy and daddy back in Middle America.

esquared™ said...

Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in Harlem to close. St. Mark's bookshop hoping to move out at the end of the year.

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20120702/RETAIL_APPAREL/120709988#ixzz1zUTRSeO6

WmFLee said...

The issue here isn't as much about "location location location" as it is about the potential loss of a truly unique community asset. Revolution Books is a place to find titles and authors not often encountered elsewhere -- radical books, yes, but also books on Black history, feminism, atheism, ecology, art -- books that are very much of the moment, by authors who go against the grain. There are also photo books, Spanish books, children's books, and a wide array of left periodicals, and even Chinese posters. The friendly and very knowledgeable volunteer staff guide visitors into a new world, a world where things don't have to be the way they are now. RB is much more than a bookstore. It is the center of a movement for the emancipation of humanity. How many of those do we have, even in New York City? RB's busy regular calendar of events includes talks, readings, panel discussions, film showings, play performances, even music and open-mic nights, covering topics and themes that are not being covered or discussed anywhere else, and featuring writers and artists and activists that one can interact with in an intimate, welcoming space.

In its present location, RB draws in visitors from all over the tri-state area and from overseas -- precisely because of its central location. It needs a fresh look and the regular, ongoing support of all who care about truly changing the world. Humanity needs a revolution; the revolution needs Revolution Books.