Montague Street Crisis: Heights Books

Former site of Heights Books (BHB/Sarah Portlock)

Former site of Heights Books (BHB/Sarah Portlock)

Miss the old Montague Street? “Degrade your property values!”

Up next is our interview with Tracy Walsch, owner of Heights Books, who recently made the decision to move to Boerum Hill (120 Smith St., between Pacific and Dean streets) from her longtime spot at 109 Montague St.

(For more in the series, check out our Montague Street in Crisis page)

Brooklyn Heights Blog: Montague Street is undergoing all kinds of changes — what happened to Heights Books?
Tracy Walsch, owner of Heights Books: Our building was sold and our lease was up at the same time. When they shopped, we shopped. Whoever was representing them was representing this space for much more than we ever had, or would pay for. It was the economy, but it was their call and we just assumed the new owner would ask much more, and rather than be in a place where we would have to negotiate, we took the initiative to shop for better digs.

BHB: Are you going to miss Montague Street?
Walsch: Yeah, I am. There are customers that probably won’t make it to our new location, so that I’m definitely going to miss that. I think our leaving is definitely representative of what Montague Street is now. I think that outside of Lassen and Hennings, Tango, and a few others, they’re all chains. And that’s ok, they have to make money too, you know.

Montague has been good to us but things are different now. It’s too bad because we did OK here, but business is business. I think that people sometimes forget that a used bookstore isn’t a community facility. We aren’t here because, to add another quirky and pleasant element to a neighborhood. We’re here just like Ricky’s is here. I have quotas, and I have to make money like anybody else. So if rents are high and people aren’t buying… well, yeah.

BHB: Anything that Brooklyn Heights residents can do to make sure Montague Street stays its classic same self?
Walsch: It’s a catch-22. We’ll spend money at the local businesses on Montague Street, but there aren’t anymore and they are interesting because interesting businesses can’t afford to be here. Degrade your property values so people won’t have high rents!

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  • bornhere

    Wow. A “cold” look at the former home of Heights Books is not a reassuring sight.

  • my2cents

    i will miss that place so much. i really loved stopping in there in the evening to look around (and hopefully find a gem) and relax after a day at work. Now the closest used bookstore is on Atlantic Avenue…and ironically he used to be on 12th street in manhattan, so i guess he backslid a notch as well…but he has a great shop. i just can’t recall the name he chose.

  • Claude Scales

    my2cents: It’s called Atlantic Books.

  • East Village Podcasts

    This feels biblical to me.

    My favorite coffee shop said they’re thinking about getting rid of the Splenda. What’s next?