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St. Mark's Bookshop May Not Survive Until Next Month, Owner Says

By John Santore | February 18, 2016 2:33pm
 The store could close before March 9, co-owner Bob Contant said.
The store could close before March 9, co-owner Bob Contant said.
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DNAinfo/John V. Santore

EAST VILLAGE — St. Mark’s Bookshop co-owner Bob Contant said Thursday that he's hanging on by a thread — and that the shop could exhaust its remaining inventory before its next court hearing on March 9.

The bookstore, located at 136 E. 3rd St., is being sued by NYCHA for more than $68,000 in back rent, a case Contant said he expects to lose. He anticipates receiving an eviction order during the court hearing.

But the end could come sooner.

“We’re selling everything off,” Contant said this week. “Once we’ve reached the point where I can’t pay my staff, that will be it.”

If the doors close for good, an announcement will be made on social media, he said.

The struggling business also owes the state $34,400 in unpaid taxes, as reported by Bedford + Bowery, and is seeking to negotiate a $15,000 bill from book distributor Baker & Taylor.

While Baker & Taylor canceled a Marshals Auction last week to liquidate the store’s remaining assets, Contant said Thursday that he hasn’t made any progress restructuring his debts. 

Realtor Charles Fitzgerald has expressed interest in taking over the business’s lease, as reported by The Awl, potentially as the first step in a project to open a new bookstore in St. Mark's footprint. 

But Contant said any new business would first need to restock the depleted shelves.

According to Contant, a new investor has expressed interest in putting $100,000 toward that goal, in conjunction with a partner or partners who would contribute a matching sum. 

But Contant wouldn’t name that investor. He also said the relationship of his staff to any new book business is still in discussion.