The Strand, among the city's most celebrated literary enclaves, is known as much for its vast collection of branded T-shirts and tote bags as it is for its alleged "18 miles of books." With merchandise ranging from cocktail shakers to iPhone cases, the front of the store resembles not so much a meditative space for the contemplative reader as it does a pretentious IKEA.
But hey, whatever keeps an independent retailer afloat in an Amazon-dominated world, amirite? That was probably the mentality of the store's employees, too, at least until the "Prose Before Hoes" magnet hit shelves late last week.
The magnet, which retails for $3.95 and was created in-house, has rankled some employees—and not just because it's cribbed from a T-shirt company that hit its stride in 2006, or because of its debatable spelling—but because it's tasteless and stupid and doesn't belong in the same building as a $4,500 first edition of the Rape of the Lock.
In response, a group of Strand staff send the following email to the store's owners:
To Nancy Bass-Wyden; Fred Bass; Eddie Sutton: There are people among your staff who find your recent magnet, “Prose Before Hoes”, offensive, and in violation of our accepted standards of decorum at the Strand. It is an insult to our customers and members of our staff; we find that it diminishes the integrity of our workplace. We ask that you remove the magnets from display, and discontinue the sale and production of these magnets. In the future, we request that you be more mindful of the content of your merchandise, and avoid offensive, misogynistic, racist, and degrading merchandise. As the Strand promotes diversity and acceptance, it is our hope that this will be consistently be reflected in what we sell. Sincerely, Concerned Strand Workers
The owners and manager of the Strand have not yet responded to our requests for comment. If you just have to buy a sexually-charged literary magnet, stick to this classic from John Waters: "If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck them." Don't even think about the Che Guevara finger puppet.