Last fall, word trickled out that beloved downtown Manhattan bookstore McNally Jackson would be leaving its longtime home 52 Prince Street and relocating somewhere else in the neighborhood. Founder Sally McNally told us they were planning to move by June and that new location would be “nearby.” It turns out that not only are they not moving—they are also opening up a couple of new locations too!
Your McNally Jackson master class in doubling down: we’re staying at our Prince Street location and opening two new bookstores this year. https://t.co/ky8lb0MDAV
— McNally Jackson (@mcnallyjackson) February 11, 2019
She explained that last year’s announcement came after her annual rent was hiked from $350,000 to $850,000. McNally apparently was close to signing at a different location nearby, but couldn’t give up on the original space, which the store has inhabited for over 15 years—this despite the fact that she previously told Gothamist that the current space “is in a shoddy building that was thrown up over a former chicken abattoir,” and “the soul of McNally Jackson is the books and the booksellers.”
Instead, she came to an agreement with the landlord, Alex Berley, to pay $650,000 a year for now, with gradual increases over the next five years.
The City Point store will occupy two floors and roughly the same amount of space as the Prince Street location, while the two-story Seaport shop will span several buildings and more than 7,000 square feet. She also notes she’s interested in opening another store in Midtown one day.
“If you had told me when I opened my first store, when I was 29, that I would eventually open four, I would have said no way,” McNally said. She had her long hair in a ponytail and was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with her original store’s layout. “I felt like I needed to have a connection with every shelf and every book,” she added. “But after 15 years, at Prince Street, I don’t need to have that connection — because someone there does.” She’s cultivated a staff with diverse tastes. “There are so many extraordinary booksellers that I’m not afraid anymore. I can just pass the new stores over — it’s like a trust fall or something.”
McNally opened the SoHo flagship in 2004 as part of her family’s McNally Robinson chain, then went independent four years later. Over the years, it has added a cafe and in-house printing press, becoming a sublime destination for thumbing through rarefied art magazines or attending a reading while sipping a latte. It also opened up a new location in Williamsburg last year.