It wasn’t as if I was in the Complete Traveller often. In fact I believe I made just one purchase there all the years it was open. At least I was able to see the place, unlike New York Bound Books, which closed after I had heard of its existence. I had found out about it during the time I was working at Macy’s a couple of blocks away from 2000-2004. The Complete Traveller (they spelled “traveler” archaically, but at lest they didn’t go far as spelling “complete” as compleat) specialized in travel books, as does Idlewild Books, but also in hard to find editions that could run a pretty penny. You didn’t go there to find something to read on the way home; you were a real travel maven or a serious book collector.
Though the store had existed before then, it was purchased in 1984 by Arnold and Harriet Greenberg, who owned and ran the store at Madison Avenue and East 35th until they closed it in 2015, as Mr. Greenberg was in his 80s and decided to retire. He passed away the following year. You may be familiar with his son Mike Greenberg, the sports TV host for ABC and ESPN.
The store still actually has an online presence, and I can browse its comprehensive collection of NYC and New York state books, as well as books describing worldwide locales. (Sadly, Forgotten New York The Book seems to be too new for them to carry!)
An expensive candy store, Michel Cluizel, took over the space (you didn’t go there for Hershey bars) but it, too, has succumbed.
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I remember the store. Used to visit when I’d go to the office of G.P. Putnam’s and Berkley Books, in the same building. Still have a decent collection of travel books and guides from the last hundred years. Thanks for the link to the store’s website!
I didn’t know it was for serious collectors when I went there. I saw a subway book with a handwritten price that I thought was 11.00 (this was right before I started needing reading glasses). I came to the counter with a 20 in my hand and the book. The clerk eyed the bill and said “So, will you be paying cash or credit?” I looked again and saw it was 110.00. It embarrassed me enough that I brought the book back to their other room and reshelved it where I found it.
One thing that I think happened to the bookstore was that they had a robbery; that may have pushed them to go online, away from bricks and mortar. It had a fabulous collection of Baedecker guides, as I recall.