The Beguiling comic shop, located in Toronto’s Mirvish Village, will relocate later this month as its neighbourhood begins to undergo a massive redevelopment.
The store, frequently lauded as one of the best of its kind in North America, is being forced to leave the Markham Street address it has called home since 1992. Its new location (its third since 1987) will open later this month, just a few blocks away at 319 College Street, along the northern border of Kensington Market. A spin-off store, Little Island Comics, which sells books for young readers, is also being forced to move from its home in the same development area. There currently are no plans for it to relocate.
Beguiling owner Peter Birkemoe says the Beguiling’s new home isn’t being viewed as a temporary move, even though the new location will offer 20 per cent less square footage. Birkemoe does plans to keep looking for additional space in 2017‚ however, in part to accommodate Little Island. “We’re working on another part of this puzzle that hasn’t completely come together‚” he says. “Until then, the exact way in which the various products and activities we do are split between this location and another can’t really be determined.”
Part of Little Island’s stock will be transferred to sister store Page and Panel‚ located at the Toronto Reference Library. The Beguiling’s new location will also stock some children’s titles. “Having a space that is just for children was a really nice thing to be able to do,” Birkemoe says. “In the plans we’ll be announcing in 2017, there may be an element of that.”
The new Beguiling location will be open for business in time for holiday shopping‚ Birkemoe hopes‚ with an overlap of up to a few months with its previous iteration. New weekly comics will commence arriving at the College Street store on Jan. 3. Events, including author talks and Q&As will continue as they have, at outside locations – the Royal Cinema‚ churches, libraries‚ and bars among them – though Birkemoe says the move opens up even more event possibilities. “We’re always trying to be creative with the spaces we use and [our new] neighbourhood offers us a lot of choice. There are so many venues to choose from within a three-block radius now.”
The Beguiling, Little Island, and a number of other arts-related business and artist studios are being forced to relocate with the planned razing of Mirvish Village, an artist colony founded by businessman Ed Mirvish and his wife, Anne, in the 1960s. Ed Mirvish died in 2007. In 2013, his son, David, announced he had sold the city block at Bloor and Bathurst streets containing the village and his father’s discount department store, Honest Ed’s, to Vancouver-based Westbank Properties for $100 million. Westbank will begin development of a new residential and retail area in 2017. Honest Ed’s will close on Dec. 31, after 68 years in business.