Just over two years after Book City closed its Bloor West Village location, rumours swept the Twitterverse that the Toronto indie book chain is preparing to open a new store in the west-end neighbourhood. Q&Q has confirmed that Book City will open a new store by early June in an 1,800 sq.-ft. space on Bloor Street West, two doors down from its former location.
“It is true, we are opening,” says general manager Ian Donker, son of Book City founder Frans Donker. “The makeup of the neighbourhood is one that we like. It’s full of young families, it’s full of pedestrian traffic, it has good parking, it’s on the subway line. We were there for over 20 years before we closed, and I’m hoping that we don’t have to do that again. I’m hoping we’re there for 20 more years.”
Donker says he began looking for a location in the area in the fall, after learning of the impending closure of the neighbourhood’s only remaining bookstore, a Chapters at Bloor and Runnymede situated in large converted cinema. Despite outcry from Bloor West Village locals, Indigo Books & Music shuttered its Runnymede location in February, citing high rents and the continued loss of revenue due to online retailers.
High rent was one factor that drove Book City out of the neighbourhood in 2012, but “with Chapters leaving, we feel like we can snap up enough sales to compensate for that higher rent,” Donker says. “One of the biggest things that made us go back to the neighbourhood is the fact that there were so many people really upset when we left, and so upset when there was no bookstore left at all. That made me feel that the neighbourhood would really get behind and support a new bookstore.”
When the Chapters Runnymede location closed, CEO Heather Reisman assured locals that the company was on the lookout for a new location close by. However, the company has not yet announced plans to open a new store in the neighbourhood and has since announced the closure of its large downtown store at John and Richmond.
Donker says he secured the new location (which previously housed a Telus outlet) in March, not long after Book City closed its flagship Annex store after 38 years. The Annex location closure meant the loss of 14 jobs, including longtime manager John Snyder. While Snyder will not be a part of the new Bloor West Village venture, Donker says a new manager has been hired internally, and he is in the process of hiring new part-time staffers.
Donker says the new shop will aim to “cater to the neighbourhood” with plenty of books geared to kids and families. “We’re a general bookstore, so we’ll have everything in there,” he says. “The shelves will be groaning eventually.”