Greenlight Bookstore will be closing its Prospect Lefferts Gardens location on May 14, the bookstore’s owner and cofounder Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo announced in an email to customers Monday morning. She also posted a six-minute video on YouTube explaining the decision.
Stockton-Bagnulo said the closure of the store at 632 Flatbush Avenue comes down to the financial difficulties that have beset many retailers since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, with sales falling and costs remaining high. She said she had tried short-term strategies to help ensure the store’s survival, including taking out a small business loan, but “it’s not enough.”
“I’ve done a lot of crunching our numbers in recent months to figure out how to return to sustainability, and I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some smart bookstore colleagues and small business experts for advice,” she wrote. The “difficult decision” to close, she added, is being made to ensure the sustainability of Greenlight as a business. The retailer has one other store, its first, which opened at 686 Fulton Street in Fort Greene in 2009.
“…as hard as this is, it’s the right thing to do for the company,” Stockton-Bagnulo wrote. “We can focus our efforts on a single physical location…plus the various projects that surround it…and ultimately return to a sustainable level of profit. My goal and expectation is that Greenlight continues to survive to serve the Brooklyn community for years to come.”
The closure means some staff will lose their jobs, and Stockton-Bagnulo said she is working with the bookstore’s union on that process. She asked customers not to ask staff questions about the closure, and to directly ask her, saying “this is fresh news for them and everyone is still processing, and this closure is neither their decision nor their fault.”
“I don’t want to stress our staff even more by having them bear the brunt of what I’m sure will be a lot of strong feelings about this; that’s my job. I’m happy to do my best to answer any additional questions you have,” she wrote.
The bookstore will continue to hold events and pop-ups in the area, she added. That could mean continuing to hold launch parties for local journal Voices of Lefferts. The PLG store is the only physical venue to carry the popular publications, which frequently sell out. The community-written local history and literary journal held a fundraiser last year to print its next three issues.
The store will be holding a sale and goodbye celebration ahead of its May 14 closing date, and Stockton-Bagnulo said details were to follow.
Greenlight Bookstore opened its PLG location in 2015 in a 2,100-square-foot retail space at the bottom of the controversial 23-story tower built by Hudson Companies at 626 Flatbush Avenue. At the time, a press release said the bookstore had seen double-digit growth, with even more percentage increases in its off-site sales at book fairs and conferences, since its Fort Greene debut in 2009.
The closure of the independent bookstore comes as a number of others pop up across the borough, including the recently opened Taylor & Co. Books in nearby Ditmas Park. Other openings include two new bookstores on Bed Stuy’s Tompkins Avenue, Troubled Sleep in Park Slope in August, and a Brooklyn Heights store for Cobble Hill’s Books Are Magic at the end of last year.