"We are ready to fight against all odds to keep The Strand alive, but we cannot do it without book lovers like you," the iconic bookstore said in October

By Karen Mizoguchi
November 13, 2020 09:00 AM
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Credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Midori Francis and Austin Abrams are the stars of Dash & Lily, but another star is bringing smiles to book lovers everywhere.

The Strand bookstore, a staple of New York City that was founded in 1927, is one of the pivotal locations in the new Netflix series based on the best-selling Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

And the release of the eight-episode show comes at a time when the iconic venue is in danger of closing due to the current conditions caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"It's so cool. I mean, who doesn't love The Strand?" Francis tells PEOPLE.

"The Strand is struggling and I'm hoping that our show can inspire people to help save The Strand, whether that's by buying something online, if you're able, or spreading the word because it really is such an iconic place, and a gathering spot for so many, or an escape for people who need a break from their very busy New York day," the actress says.

Credit: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX
Credit: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

In the show, Francis' character Lily, who feels most alive during Christmastime, hides a red notebook full of would-you-be-my-soulmate clues amid the shelves of the Strand — only for the notebook to be found by Dash (Abrams), who is more "Bah humbug!" than "Holly jolly."

"There's a magic written into the book regarding The Strand, obviously, because that's where [Dash and Lily] 'meet,' but to actually be there...," Francis says.

The show captured the awe of The Strand during several overnight shoots last year, months before the pandemic, when Francis and the crew were mostly alone in the bookstore. "To see all of those books and not many people around, it really did have this very special feel to it," says the actress, whose favorite book is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

In October, current owner Nancy Bass Wyden sent out a call for help, stating in an open letter that "The Strand's revenue has dropped nearly 70 percent compared to last year," adding, "We have survived so much in the past 93 years, and we are ready to fight against all odds to keep The Strand alive, but we cannot do it without book lovers like you."

The Strand, which is located two blocks below Union Square on 828 Broadway, is the last remaining bookstore from "Book Row," which saw 48 book shops along Fourth Avenue as far back as 1890. Over the years, many of those stores closed due to the Great Depression, and later, rent increases in the city.

Dash & Lily is available now on Netflix.