The iconic Strand Bookstore announced today that it would lay off the majority of its staff. In a statement, Strand owner Nancy Bass Wyden, granddaughter of the 93-year old bookstore’s founder, Benjamin Bass, said, “This is the first time in our history that we have had to have a layoff,” and that history includes the Great Depression. But Bass said she was left with no choice, “in order to preserve The Strand as a business.”

Bass said the staff has been paid for the week and would receive any vacation time due.  She also said they’re working with the union to make sure health insurance is extended for as long as possible. The layoffs are thought to affect about 188 employees.

The Strand closed its doors to customers about a week ago, just as a second Strand was about to open on the Upper West Side. In her statement, Bass Wyden said they haven’t given up. “We have filed a request to the Governor’s office to be designated an essential business,” the statement said. “We strongly believe that our 18 miles of books are a vital resource the world could really use right now.”​