Customers Flood Westsider Books As Liquidation Begins; Owner Wonders If A Fundraiser Could Keep Doors Open


Dorian Thornley in his store on Tuesday.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Dorian Thornley, the owner of Westsider Books on Broadway and 80th Street, was in the store Tuesday as customers walked out with armfuls of books, some selling for as little as $1. Thornley had announced on Monday that the store was closing after 35 years.

If only sales were this brisk before he announced the store was going out of business, he would have been okay, Thornley said ruefully.

“I can’t do it anymore, can’t make the rent. Business is down. It was a very quiet year, a very slow year,” he said on Tuesday, a day after announcing on his website that the store was closing.

“Is there anything that could keep you here?” we asked.

“I guess if somebody did a crowd funder and raised $50,000. I’d do it. Don’t see that happening though.”

Customers reminisced as they browsed the store on Tuesday.

“I’m sad. I’ve been coming here for many, many years,” said Linda Herskovic. “There’s always something here for me. I keep hearing that all these smaller bookstores are opening and doing well. I’m not sure what’s happening. I know people in this neighborhood read.”

Others bemoaned the loss of small shops on the Upper West Side.

“Another delightful little corner spot is being wiped out, to join an ever-widening collection of empty storefronts in this neighborhood,” said James Libby. “It’s part of a sorrowful process.”

NEWS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Bobby Panza says:

      I’ll answer the call, Dorian Thornley.

      Please save Westsider Rare & Used Books. Donate here:

      https://www.gofundme.com/save-westsider-rare-amp-used-books-please

      They need $50k by the end of February.

    2. Edith says:

      I’m in West Side Rag! If you or someone can organize this I definitely will donate some $$! Anyone else?

    3. Tim says:

      WSR please make a separate post to promote the Campaign?

    4. Sally Martell says:

      So, I just walked over to Westsider Books to talk to Dorian about the go fund me campaign. He said that he just heard about it this morning but confirmed that he would stay open if we could raise the $50K. “There’s nothing else I’d like to be doing.” As for what he’d use the money for, he said he’d pay off the back rent, pay a bit ahead and also “buy more books” (this partly because there is a 30% sale going on right now). The only thing for me is I’m not familiar with Go Fund me in general–what happens to the money if only some of the goal is raised? How does it get to Dorian?

      Bobby, can you respond?? I’d like to make a big contribution but I won’t until I have those questions answered.

    5. chris woo says:

      it’s too bad this is coming AFTER a lot of press coverage — if someone wants to try and follow up about the fundraiser, he/she should tweet or email whichever reporter covered the story and let that person know.

    6. Sid says:

      How long does the 50k keep them afloat for?

    7. Sally Martell says:

      I spoke to Dorian to confirm that he would stay open if the go fund me campaign raised his goal. He said he would. The $50K would go toward back rent, some future rent and the purchase of a ton of books.

    8. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      i just donated.

      thanks to Bobby Panza for starting the site.

      And thanks to the notorious right wing WSR commenter “Sherman” for helping motivate me. He sarcastically said:

      “We really need more bookstores selling old and dusty books.”

      Keep it up, Sherman!

    9. James S says:

      @westsider how long would the $50k sustain you for? Hope it works regardless

    10. john says:

      How long before Dorian needs another 50grand?

    11. yourneighbor says:

      Looks like they owe back rent. Will the $50k all go to back rent?
      Seems like if a business needs handouts to stay afloat perhaps it is time to pack it in. It might be a great shop but it has always looked uninviting to me as I walk down Broadway. They had plenty of time to tune their business model to better suit the changing neighborhood, maybe they could have added a coffee bar and some seating like Shakespeare but way too late for that now if they are already in a financial hole with back rent.

      • Edwin says:

        Sometimes a community supports and values a business by a different metric than its landlord. And sometimes what the community wants and needs is more important.

    12. Sean says:

      Looks like gofundme is working such that it’s getting very close to the 50k goal already.

      If the owners will listen they should convert it into a non-profit… it’s a good space!