Eye Weekly has a brief history of the World’s Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto. Apparently, it used to be a bowling alley. (Bring your own tenpins and a bowling ball and it still could be.)
The writer, Marc Weisblott, traces the evolution of the WBB from its awe-inspiring early days when it dwarfed all the other book stores (which were all 5’x11′ or smaller and sold flour and sugar too) to its Indigo-owned present day, when barnlike stores are the norm and one of the WBB’s biggest-selling titles is Mood Your Change “ How to Mind Your Think by Feeling Your Toes (or something like that), which Weisblott takes as a marker of the store’s current identity.
Weisblott lumps the WBB in with such much-loved icons as Sam the Record Man and Honest Ed’s, but its history, while varied and quirky, has brought it to its present state of fluorescent lighting, grubby lino flooring, and Conrad Black via LongPen. Meanwhile, as Weisblott points out, the Yonge and Dundas intersection on which it squats is rapidly cleaning itself up. How long before the condo developers come calling?
So do you want to save the WBB? Do you want to save things just because they’re old and rich with history, or do you have to actually like them too?