Owner of Book Culture says stores are in danger of closing, urges the city for assistance

June 26, 2019

Photos courtesy of Book Culture

Photos courtesy of Book Culture

The latest independent bookstore in danger of closing is the Upper West Side’s beloved Book Culture. Owner Chris Doeblin issued an open letter earlier this week in which he urges the city to provide assistance in the form of an immediate loan. Despite good business—they’ve been able to expand to three storefronts uptown and one in Long Island City—Doeblin has stated that he would need a minimum of $500,000 to keep things afloat and fend off the “awful spiral” of unpaid vendor debts and loans.

“Our four stores are in danger of closing soon and we need financial assistance or investment on an interim basis to help us find our footing,” Doeblin wrote in the open letter addressed to his customers and the city’s government. “This is true in spite of the fact that business has been good and we are widely supported and appreciated.”

Book Culture employs over 75 people at peak season and had a payroll of over $1.7 million last year. “All of that payroll along with the $700,000 a year that we pay in rent goes right back into the New York economy, which is why I address our government here. Many large development plans, Amazon’s HQ2 in LIC for example, included a cost to taxpayers of $48,000 per job. There is a history here of local government aiding business when it produces a return for the locality.”

“We have done the cutting and restructuring of our company but still need working capital to build on depleted inventory and pay overdue vendor debt,” he elaborated further via email, noting that they are open to an investor taking a stake in the company. “We’ve always been committed to paying our employees above minimum wage, both before and after the increase, but our difficulties are most recently attributable to the minimum wage rising too fast to cope with.”

“Independent stores like Book Culture should get more support from the government,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer in a statement supporting Book Culture. “My husband and I are regulars at our local Book Culture, and to see it close would be devastating for the communities they serve.”

[Via West Side Rag]


Photos courtesy of Book Culture

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