Nolita’s iconic McNally Jackson bookstore is leaving its Prince Street home at the end of June 2019. Bowery Boogie was the first to report on the development, shortly after the landlord’s representative, Winick Realty, began marketing the retail space that is currently occupied by the bookstore, at 50 Prince Street. The listing notes that the space will be available for occupancy in July 2019.
The neighborhood staple opened 14 years ago at the corner of Mulberry and Prince Streets. The store was founded by Sarah McNally, whose parents used to own the Canadian bookstore chain, McNally Robinson. Initially the store operated as a branch of the Canadian chain, but a few years in, McNally, along with her husband Christopher Jackson, decided to go independent, and renamed the shop McNally Jackson.
McNally issued a lengthy statement to Curbed shortly after the news of the move broke. Curbed is pasting a portion of it below:
This whole process has made me think about the soul of McNally Jackson. Something is always lost in translation, but the translator chooses what remains. What about McNally Jackson is irreducible? It’s certainly not the current space, which is in a shoddy building that was thrown up over a former chicken abattoir. The soul of McNally Jackson is the books and the booksellers. We have remained devoted to an old fashioned idea of bookselling, in which bookstores are edifying spaces. While so many bookstores have cut back on inventory, we’ve gone deeper. I have tried to make a bookstore that is generous at every level. It’s generous if you would like to educate yourself in Arabic poetry, generous if you would like to read about the theoretical and practical implications of AI, and generous if you would like to buy a bestselling novel. We have always prioritized our mission to be a hub of global literary culture, with 14000 books in our literature section alone, divided by geography. I don’t know a better retail resource for international literature, anywhere in the world. This we will keep, and translate into a new space
That new location will be nearby, McNally said in her email. She hopes to make a formal announcement about the new space soon. McNally said the bookshop had already made provisions for the move, but weren’t expecting the landlord to post signs about the retail availability for at least another few weeks. She is however undeterred by the suddenness of the announcement.
“Keeping McNally Jackson alive is a responsibility I take very seriously, and right now it’s a heavy burden,” McNally added in a follow-up email. “It’s an exhilarating and frightening moment. But, honestly, I built the current store when I was 29 years old. I will do a much, much better job this time.”
UPDATE 10/18/18: Bowery Boogie has learned that McNally Jackson saw a $500,000 raise in rent at its current location. The store’s annual rent increased a staggering 60 percent from $360,000 to $850,000.
In the years since it opened in 2004, the bookstore added a cafe; an in-house printing press which publishes hundreds of novels a month, and an Espresso Book Machine, which essentially creates and binds a book on demand.
In January this year, McNally Jackson debuted a large, new location in Williamsburg, something the store had been planning to do for several years. The Williamsburg outpost has already gained a strong following in the months since its debut, and the bookstore reportedly has deals to open two new locations, according to Crain’s.
Still, the Prince Street location will always be beloved to New Yorkers for being one of the few independent bookstores to survive as others shuttered around it. Some New Yorkers were already lamenting the loss on Twitter.
I hope this isn’t actually true, or that there is a way to fight this. @mcnallyjackson is such an important part of the literary & cultural landscape, and has always felt like a little haven to me. Not to the exclusion of the neighboring bookstores, but in partnership with them.— LaurenGoldenberg (@LaurenGolden__) October 9, 2018