Bank Street Bookstore Gets a New Lease

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Renowned Upper West Side bookstore for children, teachers, and families will move to new location in March 2015.

The Bookstore is a key part of our commitment to high quality children’s literature, and to reading as a fundamental component to lifelong learning.

Bank Street College of Education today announced that its Board of Trustees has approved a new lease for its children’s bookstore and will continue operations in its new location at West 107th and Broadway beginning late winter.

The Bank Street Bookstore, often cited as one of the nation’s best bookstores for children and families, has served the City of New York and beyond for over 20 years. Despite the shop’s passionate fan base, extended hours, and celebrity author visits from the likes of Jeff Kinney, Stephen Colbert, and Julianne Moore, the Bookstore faced many of the same challenges that have plagued most independent booksellers in recent years, namely competition from online retailers and ever-increasing rents.

Last fall, when the current lease came up for renewal, Bank Street’s Board of Trustees reluctantly announced that the College could no longer subsidize the Bookstore. Bank Street contemplated closing the shop at the end of its lease unless a more cost-effective location could be found. The new location, which is less costly, will also allow the Bookstore to operate on one floor with more room for kids and families to sit and read together. The Bookstore will have its grand opening in February 2015.

Shael Polakow-Suransky, who became Bank Street’s seventh president in July, said the fate of the Bookstore was one of the first decisions he had to make in his new role.

“The fact is, it is too important to the College’s mission to let it disappear,” he said. “The Bookstore is a key part of our commitment to high quality children’s literature, and to reading as a fundamental component to lifelong learning. In this new location, we will continue to need support from the entire New York City community and our neighbors to keep it the vibrant resource it has always been.”

“Some of the hallmarks of the Bank Street Bookstore include an unparalleled selection of books, toys, and games for children and families, chosen by experts in child development who understand and care about how children learn and grow,” said Andy Laties, the store’s manager. Many of the store’s employees hold master’s degrees in education and literacy, and are a matchless source of guidance for customers seeking “just the right book.”

The Bookstore will run a series of markdown sales leading up to the close of its shop at its current Broadway and West 112th Street location, and will simultaneously launch its new "Friends of Bank Street Bookstore" membership program. “The new location’s rent is significantly less than at the current space, which we believe will enable us to operate sustainably,” said Laties. “However the new space is being gutted and entirely renovated, which has its own costs.”

In addition to its customer base of individual parents and teachers, the store also supplies books and materials to many of New York’s public, private, and charter schools and has strong capacity to partner with schools or networks of schools on designing and ordering classroom libraries and selecting books aligned to curricula that schools are developing.

Bank Street has a history of supporting the creation of and access to children’s literature. From the 1937 inception of the Writers Lab — which included among its membership Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon — by the College’s founder Lucy Sprague Mitchell, to the Bank Street Children’s Library, to the Center for Children’s Literature, Bank Street has made it part of its mission to create children’s literature and identify and support authors who show an understanding and appreciation of the language of growing children. The Bank Street Bookstore has been critical to this mission, and now will continue to do so.

Jennifer Brown, who directs Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature, expressed delight and relief that the store would continue operating in the neighborhood.

“We count on Andy and the Bookstore team to make sure books are on hand for so many of Bank Street’s important events celebrating children’s literature, including author visits, BookFest, the Irma Black Award and Cook Prize celebration, and the Children's Book Award ceremony,” she said.

Brown recalled the public response “when it seemed that the Bookstore's future was at risk.” With plans set for a reopening in the near future, she said, “everyone can start the school year with a sense of calm, knowing that the books they need are close at hand."

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