Late last week, a petition called "Save the St. Mark's Bookshop" appeared online, stating that the neighborhood landmark needs a lower rent agreement from landlord Cooper Union in order to stay open.
The petition was started by Joyce Ravitz, a local community member and patron of the Manhattan bookstore. The petition is part of Cooper Square Committee, an organization that "works with area residents to contribute to the preservation and development of affordable, environmentally healthy housing and community/cultural spaces so that the Cooper Square area remains racially, economically, and culturally diverse." Initially asking for 4,000 signatures (which it quickly received), the petition is now asking for 15,000. At the time of this writing, it currently has 12,974 signatures.
Terry McCoy, co-owner of St. Mark's Bookshop, stated that he was meeting with landlord Cooper Union this week and that "the ball is totally in their court." Rent issues have been a problem for the bookstore since at least last summer, when St. Mark's met with Cooper Union and they "pretty much shut the door." McCoy is not optimistic about this week's meeting, and he expects the landlord to tell him that there are no steps they can take to ensure a lower rent.
"Sales have declined and the rent is becoming burdensome," said McCoy. "We had a dreadful August. Hurricane Irene kind of put a cap on it." McCoy did say that September sales have been better.
McCoy says he didn't know who Ravitz was before the petition went up, but has since met her and is warmed by her support, as well as the support from the entire community. "I'm surprised at the number of people," McCoy says. "We welcome the support. It would be great if it had an effect."