David Del Vecchio opened Idlewild books at 12 W. 19th St. in 2008. It is an independent travel bookstore specializing in guidebooks and literature from around the world. The space also hosts Italian, French and Spanish language classes throughout the year. Del Vecchio previously worked as a press officer for the United Nations for 10 years before he decided to blend his passion for traveling and literature.
How would you best describe the Flatiron neighborhood?
It is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city. There are so many historic buildings. It’s a mix of old and new New York. The streets are what’s special; they’re where you find things unique like The City Bakery or our shop or some of the smaller restaurants. I would tell someone visiting the neighborhood that they’d find more special things along the streets from east to west.
How have you seen the neighborhood change in recent years?
When I took the space in 2008 it was much more of a working neighborhood but now it’s becoming more residential. Before it always felt like a daytime neighborhood that was deserted at night but now that more people are living here there’s more happening at night. There’s better shopping in terms of groceries and necessities for the residents.
Are there any drawbacks to the neighborhood?
I don’t think it’s easy for independent businesses to survive here, not only because rents are high but because it’s a neighborhood where retail spaces are oversized. The mezzanine level is affordable for us; if we didn’t have that special size we wouldn’t be able to afford the space.