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St. Mark's Bookshop, facing eviction, runs cash-only, half-off clearance

St. Mark’s Bookstore in the East Village is facing a range of debt problems and could be closed by this week, store owners told amNewYork. As part of a last ditch effort to raise funds, the store is currently running a cash-only clearance sale, with nearly all prices marked half-off. The store also launched a GoFundMe that raised $23,657 of its $150,000 goal in two months.

Bob Contant, one of the store owners, said that he was served a marshal’s notice two weeks ago and that the store has had its bank assets frozen recently. The store owes about $62,000 in back rent, $34,000 in taxes and more in other debts. A marshal is expected to begin auctioning off the store’s merchandise on Wednesday morning to pay back debt owed to book publisher, Baker & Taylor.

By Monday evening, the store seemed largely depleted
Photo Credit: Jason Shaltiel

By Monday evening, the store seemed largely depleted of its inventory; many shelves were barren and most were lightly stocked. But a low supply didn't stop many from foraging the small shop, as the store was packed with customers on Monday.

"I bought several fashion magazines, one's that I wouldn't normally buy because they're too expensive," said Stefanie Russell, 50, a professor at NYU who lives near Washington Square Park. Russell has been shopping at the bookstore for years and said she found out about the closing in an email. "It's sad to see it go," she said.

The loss of small and independent bookstores has
Photo Credit: Jason Shaltiel

The loss of small and independent bookstores has been detrimental for many locals and writers. Taylor Moore, 24, of New Brighton, Staten Island, has been selling books written by his father, Alan Moore (not the comic book writer), at St. Mark's Bookstore for several years. Moore said that his father's work is mostly distributed at small and independent bookstores.

"They had spaces for local authors and a spot for cultural significance," Moore said. "But if you were to ask (my father), he would complain about the cultural significance of losing this store rather than financial."

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