As you've likely heard by now, the Posman's bookstore in Grand Central Terminal has been denied a lease renewal by their landlord, the MTA. With no negotiations or help, December 31 remains their final day.
I sent our petition, with its nearly 2,500 signatures, to the MTA representative, but have not heard back. So go to Posman's before the new year and say your goodbyes to yet another small shop in the city.
On a recent evening, business was booming. You can barely get inside the door. But that doesn't matter. Our small shops can be successful, and still they get the boot in today's New York.
A customer approached the register with her books and said to the cashier, "I'm so glad you're still in business. I never buy from Amazon."
The cashier broke the news, "Actually, we're going out of business," and she explained the situation, how the MTA is denying them a new lease to make room for a new luxury skyscraper.
The customer began to wail, "No, no, no, no!" I've witnessed this scene so many times. The shock, the denial, the clutching at the heart. Living in this city today, if you love it, is one big funeral.
I asked employee, long-time bookstore guy, and poet Ron Kolm how customers have reacted to the closure of Posman's. He told me:
"The response has been amazing. The general feeling in the store has surprised me. I always liked our customers, and we definitely have a number of regulars, but I figured that most of the people who shopped there were just passing through; we get tons of tourists. But in the past weeks it's become clear that Posman Books is part of a community.
Almost every other customer tells us how much we mean to them, how they stop in before getting their train home from work, or to keep up with what's being published, or just to relax. They are so serious in their commiserating, if that's the right word. They're solicitous about our futures, and wonder what they can do to reverse something they see as being awful.
When I'm at the register, it's almost one long, constant conversation, and I end up empathizing with them. Which has sort of stunned me. I worked the register for five or six hours on 'Black Friday,' which is traditionally a dead day for us, everyone leaving the city for Thanksgiving. But not this one; it was one of our busiest days in quite awhile, and the conversations were so intense, and so deeply felt, that I went home with a splitting headache. I truly thought that this is what a shrink must feel like after a day of listening to other people's problems -- I had to jolt myself back into focus and remember that it was me who was going to lose a work situation I love, and a staff I admire and enjoy working with."
Meanwhile, the Rite-Aid next door--which was empty, by the way--is allowed to live on.