At the time of this writing, 14,797 people have signed a petition in support of St. Mark's Bookshop, stating that the East Village landmark needs a lower-rent agreement from landlord Cooper Union in order to stay in business.
The online petition was created by Joyce Ravitz, a patron of the shop, as part an effort from the Cooper Square Committee, which "works with area residents to contribute to the preservation and development of affordable, environmentally healthy housing and community/cultural spaces so that the Cooper Square area remains racially, economically, and culturally diverse".
St. Mark's has been struggling all summer with slower business and steeper overhead costs in a neighborhood where rents are skyrocketing. In June, when management was forced to downsize its staff, a sign in the store ominously read, "Find It Here. Buy It Here. Keep US here."
The Villager reported that "the bookstore occupies valuable real estate and staff members said the landlords are unwilling to lower the rent for the space" so it will be interesting to see if the petition will have any effect.
"Sales have declined and the rent is becoming burdensome," store co-ower Terry McCoy told Publishers Weekly. "We had a dreadful August. Hurricane Irene kind of put a cap on it."
If St. Mark's were to shutter, it would join a growing list East Village landmarks that have recently vanished. Mars Bar, the legendary village dive and neighboring Joe's Locksmith both closed in July. Then, the historic house at 35 Cooper Square was demolished.