Craig Newman, the third-generation owner of Penn Books inside Penn Station, wrote in to the #SaveNYC Facebook group yesterday with a plea.
"I am trying to survive," he wrote, "but it gets harder every day. My rent is now a staggering $45,000 a month, not including property taxes, and another $20,000 a year in commercial rent tax. If anybody can do anything or cares about saving my bookstore, please HELP."
He added, "I thought Mayor de Blasio was supposed to help small business."
Business is going well for Penn Books. They are not being pushed out. But, like too many small businesses in the city, they are struggling under an enormous rent strain.
photo via Capital New York
Craig's grandfather, Arthur Newman, started the bookshop in the original Penn Station in 1962. Remarkably, the shop survived the wrecking ball and reopened in the new Penn Station. Craig started working there in 1978, taking the A-train to work through the gritty city as a 12-year-old kid. He opened the current shop's incarnation in 1992 after his grandfather passed away.
Penn Books survived the destruction of Penn Station. They survived citywide fiscal crises. They even outlasted Borders. Business is still bustling. But the rent? That's another story.
Today, weighed down with an insane rent burden for a mere 1,300 square feet of space, Craig is concerned for the longevity of his family business. We already lost Posman's from Grand Central, we can't lose another train-station bookshop, especially not one that's been going strong for 53 years.
Stay tuned and click here to take action to save small businesses like Penn Books. Enough is enough. #SaveNYC!
UPDATE: Cash mob for Penn Books and #Save NYC has been cancelled.