Though The Strand bookstore’s Central Park outpost on 5th Avenue and 60th Street is a familiar sight on nice days, the process behind this type of city concession may be less so to readers. NYC Park’s Concessions Directory says The Strand has been operating there since the 1960s but that’s not entirely accurate. According to the bookstore’s general manager Eddie Sutton, over the years “we’ve had the contract and we’ve not had the contract.” Last year, it was reported that the city had put out an RFP (Request for Proposals) regarding the kiosk, which was simply because The Strand’s 5 year lease was ending on May 1, 2013.
The RFP revealed some fun pieces of information:
- In the 2011-2012 operating year, the lease fee was $46,305 but the stand took in $328,033.61 in gross receipts.
- This kiosk is dedicated specifically to book selling, with a requirement that those bidding for the lease should have a “solid background in the book business”
- All items and prices are subject to the park’s approval, and non-book items like souvenirs must be associated with books. Statements of gross receipts have to be submitted to the city monthly.
- Customer Service is a required expectation of the concessionaire, and included in the proposals are “customer service mechanisms that will enhance and maintain the satisfaction of patrons.”
- The leasees, not the city, are responsible for the maintenance of the stand, utilities, even the pavement and sidewalks. In the last RFP, proposers were required to provide new or refurbished bookstalls and tables
- Proposals had to be submitted on paper with no less than 30% post-consumer material content!
The Strand is still operating there this summer so it’s clear they won the bid again. And as a fun note, if you ever thought the kiosk was reminiscent of the book stalls along the Seine, you’re right. NYC Parks says, “The book stalls were created to emulate the stalls on Paris’ Left Bank.”