Shakespeare & Co., the beloved independent bookstore on Broadway, could close as early as tomorrow. And it might be making way for a Foot Locker, Bedford + Bowery has learned.
A sign outside of the store yells, “Everything goes!” and a 50% sale is ensuring that this prophecy comes true.
When B+B stopped by, the once-humming, reader-strewn space had become almost sepulchral—a respectful hush maintained by the dispersed pilgrims. Margot Liddell, the store manager, looked disconsolately across the empty shelves. “We have to get out because Foot Locker’s coming in,” she said, plaintively. It was clearly an undesirable fate.
Employees at the Foot Locker at 734 Broadway were unable to say whether they’ll relocate (“I’m not 100% sure as of yet,” said an employee who referred us to the corporate office, where no one was available) and Brendan Gotch, the listing agent who marketed 716 Broadway for Massey Knakal, said, “We don’t have a signed lease yet for this spot, and we’re still entertaining several options.”
But documents we downloaded from a construction company outline plans to build a Foot Locker store at 716 Broadway. Two blueprints included in the demolition plan identify the existing space as “Shakespear & Company Book Sellers” (yep, they misspelled Shakespeare. Though, in fairness, the Bard never signed his name the same way twice.)
Ahem, Shakespeare & Co. will remain open only so long as stock lingers, and the books are dwindling fast—although wonderfully eclectic flotsam and jetsam remains. This reporter picked up a Modern Library edition of Moby Dick and Cowrie, a Hawaiian-set novel by Cathie Dunsford (a compatriot of mine).
The titles of other unloved tomes jumped out ominously at me from recently evacuated shelves. Hell No, screamed one. A Life in Books, whispered another.
Students kept wandering in and asking if someone could help them find textbooks, to which Lidell wearily had to reply that there were no textbooks here, and never would be again. “It’s all very sad, though, isn’t it?” she said, with feeling.
Hamlet might console her with the cheery musing: “Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.” And certainly, Shakespeare & Co. will not be soon forgotten.