EAST VILLAGE — St. Mark’s Bookshop began a new chapter over the weekend, opening a new location on East Third Street after rising rents forced the bookstore from its longtime Third Avenue home.
The downsized bookseller launched Saturday at 136 E. Third St. near Avenue A, about three weeks after the owners packed up the books and locked the doors at the original spot at 31 Third Ave., said Terry McCoy, who helped found the store in 1977.
"It's great to be open," McCoy said outside the modern shop Monday afternoon.
The 1,325-square-foot space, which is less than half the size of the original location, has a modern look with rounded shelves and display tables that can be deconstructed and used as chairs for readings and events, McCoy said.
The owners began looking for a more affordable storefront in 2012, after the rent at its former home became unmanageable. The bookstore won a rent reduction from its landlord, Cooper Union, in 2011, but the $17,500 monthly rent was still too much for business, co-owner Bob Contant said.
By the time the store left its original location, rent had risen to $23,500, McCoy said. The owners now pay about 25 percent of that, he said.
Clouds Architecture Office, which designed the store, offered its services for free, McCoy said.
The new bookstore's early customers said they were happy to see St. Mark's reopen in the neighborhood.
“I’m heartened that at least some bookstores are still opening and still hanging on,” said Heather MacIsaac, 56, who lives around the corner. On Monday afternoon, she was shopping for a book to give as a present.
McCoy said he was grateful for the neighborhood’s response.
“It makes you feel like you’re doing something that people find valuable,” he said.
St. Mark’s Bookshop will be open daily from noon to 10 p.m. for the rest of the summer, McCoy said.