6. The secret to the Strand’s survival during the Great Depression
Given the impact of the Great Depression on many other family-owned businesses in New York City, it’s quite remarkable that the Strand lived through it all. In an interview with The New York Times, Fred Bass said the Strand’s survival of the Depression was key to its current growth.
During the Depression, Ben Bass was falling behind on paying rents. Thankfully, the Strand’s landlord at the time, who was the last heir of Peter Stuyvesant, allowed the store to stay rent-free for a few years until Bass could pay off the debt when the economy improved. In the end, Bass was so grateful to the landlord that he agreed to voluntary rent increases during wartime rent control.
Bass’ trusting relationship with Stuyvesant proved to be valuable once again, when rent control ended and the Stuyvesants doubled the rent for all property in the area—except for the Strand. In 1996, Fred Bass purchased the building, so that the Strand is no longer threatened by the whims of landlords and rising rents.