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St. Mark's Bookshop Looking for Investors to Keep Business Afloat

By Lisha Arino | August 5, 2015 3:56pm
 St. Mark's Bookshop employee Jed Russell, left, works in the store's new location while customer Heather MacIsaac shops.
St. Mark's Bookshop employee Jed Russell, left, works in the store's new location while customer Heather MacIsaac shops.
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DNAinfo/Lisha Arino

EAST VILLAGE — A neighborhood bookseller “Needs Help to Survive,” its owners said in an email sent Wednesday morning.

St. Mark's Bookshop, now located at 136 Third St., put out a call for investors in an email sent to its mailing list at around 10:15 a.m.

“To continue in our mission we need people who value our work and goals to help us,” wrote co-owner Bob Contant.

The 37-year-old independent bookstore moved to East Third Street in July 2014 after its $17,500 rent at East Ninth Street — a reduced rate it received from its landlord in 2011 — proved to be too much to keep the shop going in the long run.

Contant and co-owner Terry McCoy funded the move through an auction of rare books and a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $50,000 but those steps weren't enough, Contant wrote in the email.

“Unfortunately, we were undercapitalized for the cost of the move,” he said. “We were forced out of our old space before our new one was ready, and the cost of going into storage plus construction overruns left little money with which to buy inventory.”

As a result, the bookstore is currently understocked, Contant wrote. McCoy estimated that the shop had room to triple its stock.

However, an investor approached the owners about “funding a rebirth of the bookstore” and “restructuring the business with an eye to long term viability,” Contant wrote. The investor was looking for others to join him in an investment team.

“Please contact me if this prospect interests you,” he said.

McCoy said the shop was struggling, but not in danger of closing in the immediate future.

“We are in a difficult situation financially and every day is a new challenge. But we don’t have any plans to close,” he said over the phone Wednesday afternoon. “That’s why we’re pursuing this, we want to take action now to be able to continue.”

McCoy said he could not name the investor or reveal how much he wanted to invest into the bookshop. So far, around a dozen individuals have contacted St. Mark's Bookshop about the investment opportunity, he said.

“They’re just asking. They’re inquiring. It’s all very preliminary,” McCoy said.