By Dana Jean Costantino
Mercer Street Books & Records is a long-standing store on Mercer Street, right here in the Village. It is a true New York City classic, a place where you can spend hours combing through the racks and finding treasures in the form of used books. I have spent countless hours inside this fabulously old school space. When I walk in I feel as though I have been transported to a New York City of another time—old New York City. One that so many of us crave daily, no matter what our age.
When I enter the store, somehow I immediately feel as though I am a beat poet, college student, or writer in search of the next big idea. I can most assuredly count on an intriguing conversation with owner Wayne Conti if he happens to be behind the front counter. To keep this bookstore alive and to share it with those of you that already support it or maybe do not know about it but should, it was a great pleasure to conduct an interview with Wayne. I share with you here some of our delightful conversation. Please be sure to take some time out of your day and stop into Mercer Street Books & Records. It is an absolute must for anyone that loves a good book or just loves supporting the very best of New York City in the form of local businesses.
Q: For how many years now have you been running Mercer Street Books?
A: I have been running Mercer Street Books for 31 and a half years.
Q: What is the best part of running this business?
A: The best part of running the bookstore is…everything. The older customers have wonderful gifts of gab. So much to hear. Faculty from Yale, NYU, and Columbia, mainly.
Q: What do you love about living downtown and being part of the Village community?
A: What I love as a 40+ year resident of the Village are the memories. Don’t I sound like Joe Franklin? The Village was full of irritable refuges from Europe or New Jersey. Everyone argued, everyone listened, then argued some more. No one had any money, including the landlords. Life was great if you were not too hungry. We were thin.
Q: What do you hope for the future of Mercer Street Books?
A: I do not know what to hope for Mercer Street Books, my business of more than 30 years. The second six-year term of Bloomberg was a disaster. De Blasio?
Q: What are the current hours of Mercer Street Books?
A: My current hours are 12 noon to 8:00 p.m. That is enough reality for me right now.
Please find your way to Mercer Street, and then find your way to the front door of Mercer Street Books & Records. Walk down the few steps into the store and begin your journey into the best of this city.
Mercer Street Books & Records is located at 206 Mercer Street, New York, NY 10012. Phone: 212-505-8615.