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Chapters store at Richmond and John to shut down

Posted by Natalia Manzocco / April 1, 2014

chapters torontoTimes are tough for bookstores - even, it appears, for the largest booksellers in Canada.

On Monday, Indigo announced that it planned to shutter the Chapters location at Richmond and John, just one day after the World's Biggest Bookstore finally closed for good, and less than two months after the Runnymede Chapters location met a similar fate.

The company gave its 60-day notice to end the lease on the three-floor location in the Festival Hall retail complex, which it currently shares with Scotiabank Theatre and Marshalls.

The company says it plans to relocate the store and transition employees to other positions. Indigo's vice president of public relations, Janet Eger, said in a statement that the company was "actively looking for new real estate options in Oakville, downtown Toronto and Bloor West Village that will best meet our requirements."

With the intersection long dominated by the glass facade of the former chain flagship, it remains to be seen who will pounce on the space next. The Runnymede location, which shut its doors in mid-February, is set to become a Shoppers Drug Mart, while the World's Biggest Bookstore will reportedly be converted into a row of restaurants.

Photo by Tom Flemming on Flickr.



Alana / April 1, 2014 at 01:56 pm
Bob / April 1, 2014 at 01:56 pm
Can't believe this wasn't done 5-10 years ago.
June / April 1, 2014 at 02:11 pm
haha / April 1, 2014 at 02:12 pm
W. K. Lis / April 1, 2014 at 02:27 pm
What to do while waiting before going in for a movie?
grey / April 1, 2014 at 02:39 pm
Damnit. I actually go to this location. Even though I live near World's Biggest, the prices were always at least a few bucks more, and Chapter's-proper would price-match with their website.
Alexander replying to a comment from grey / April 1, 2014 at 02:52 pm
Hunh? WBB and Indigo are the same people...and they don't price match with their website...I don't know what you've been smoking but I want some!
Krectus / April 1, 2014 at 02:56 pm
If they are looking for a place in downtown Toronto I know of a big space at John and Richmond that will be available soon and would be perfect for them.
person / April 1, 2014 at 03:25 pm
Okay, so what would be the dealio with inventory here? Would stock move to another location, or would there be suh-weet book sales?
60 DAYS? / April 1, 2014 at 03:32 pm
Water into beer / April 1, 2014 at 03:37 pm
Screw Chapters. These crap box stores put a lot of small bookstores out of business and are killing small publishers. Good riddance.
don / April 1, 2014 at 03:39 pm
What the statement says is "We are working very closely with our human resources team to ensure a fair transition for all of our valued staff members impacted by this closure."

The WBB staff got laid off. Maybe 5 or 6 people got positions at other stores. Who knows what they're doing with this store's employees.
CW replying to a comment from Rick / April 1, 2014 at 04:01 pm
Its not the only location. I was at bayview village and the same deal. People were sitting in the isles blocking them while they read.

People treat it as a library that has the latest materials and multiple copies of a book.

I have no idea if it has help or hindered them. At this point clawing back on people reading in the store would likely have a negative impact.
John / April 1, 2014 at 04:03 pm
That is the ugliest building ive ever seen in my life.
Laura / April 1, 2014 at 04:04 pm
Where else can I use the washroom downtown without having to pay for anything?!
Paul replying to a comment from John / April 1, 2014 at 04:06 pm
you're the ugliest building i've ever seen in my life, k?
Jessica / April 1, 2014 at 04:14 pm
That's too bad. That was a favourite activity for my family and me. Movie, dinner and a trip to the bookstore. We'll miss it...
Astin / April 1, 2014 at 04:22 pm
3 floors, each of them an okay size. How many 450sq ft condo units can be squeezed out of that? Okay, fine, 10% will have to be 600sq ft 3-bedroom family units I guess. But think! Convenient access to Scotiabank Theatre! Jack Astor's across the road! Hooters down the road! Milestones next door! Queen street shopping just steps away. A perfect place to live! Exclamation marks!
dee replying to a comment from Rick / April 1, 2014 at 04:27 pm
Nothing's going to change unless people start complaining. Complain to the managers (not floor staff), fill out the surveys on the receipts when you buy things. They're going to care more about people who are actually spending money as opposed to people who *might* spend in store. And if you find a book you want but don't buy it because someone has obviously been using it in the store, complain about that too.

I've walked out of the Eaton Centre Indigo without buying anything more than once because it was impossible to get past the loiterers to get to the shelf I needed.
Hanna / April 1, 2014 at 04:29 pm
Indigo and Heather Reisman deal another blow to the community - including customers, staff and publishers. They are no different than other large corporations in mentality, except that they are operating in an industry that doesn't leave room for the smaller players once they are done with their agenda ...

First Indigo opened up around the city and undercut pricing on all the small bookstores, as well as putting serious pressure on small publishers.

Then, when all the neighbourhood bookstores went out of business, they brought prices back up (except online to price match with Amazon).

The final step is to close locations, to increase company wide profits by lowering their overhead. In the process, cutting jobs and leaving neighbourhoods without the original small bookstores. Don't like it? Too bad, we're the only game left.

Need proof:

Indigo reported 3% growth in its last quarter, with revenue up $9.8 million from the same period last year.

Revenue from store sales were up 2.6% and online sales were up 19.3%

For all those saying that they should not let people read in the stores, this is silly. It's always been that way in book stores. And remember, the book prices in-store are way higher than online. Plus, Indigo is moving towards home and tech merchandise. The numbers don't lie.
Heather / April 1, 2014 at 04:36 pm
These guys are not in it for books. Just another faceless corporation with PR people and real estate teams so on and so forth.
I guess despite the Indigo president's insistence the transition from books to lifestyle and cultural (LMFAO) centres is not going well

I do look forward to the generic, bland, fusion, non-offensive row of restaurants coming to where World's Biggest was though.... NOT (Susur Lee what are you up to?? The world needs another pan-Asian, modern Asian with a twist restaurant)
togal / April 1, 2014 at 04:50 pm
dee replying to a comment from Hanna / April 1, 2014 at 05:28 pm
"For all those saying that they should not let people read in the stores, this is silly. It's always been that way in book stores"

No, actually it hasn't. I'm 35 and growing up we weren't allowed to sit in bookstores for hours and read the books. We for sure weren't allowed to read the magazines without buying them first.

And books in store are more expensive because the profit is paying for *that* store's rent, utilities, staff, shipping, etc. Much higher costs than just shipping from a warehouse after someone buys a book online.
1990 / April 1, 2014 at 05:38 pm
Bring on Sega Palladium!!!!
Justin replying to a comment from togal / April 1, 2014 at 05:59 pm
Yes! Amazing idea.
michael / April 1, 2014 at 06:41 pm
ddave / April 1, 2014 at 07:27 pm
Webster replying to a comment from dee / April 1, 2014 at 07:32 pm
Your argument is asinine. "I've walked out of the Eaton Centre Indigo without buying anything more than once because it was impossible to get past the loiterers to get to the shelf I needed."

Who are these immovable juggernauts congesting the aisles at the bookstore? Why can't you say "excuse me" and look for the book you are searching for? Or simply ask the staff for help?

Also, "using" books? Who "uses" books? We all read them. The human-book interaction does not change depending on whether you are purchasing the book or not from the store...

The idea there was a 'golden age' of bookstores where people were not allowed to read for extended periods of time is just silly. Your argument amounts to "these people reading books is getting in the way of my ability to buy books," and in this sense it is you who does not understand the purpose of bookstores.

I enjoy seeing people read at the bookstore. I have spent an hour or so reading books I was thinking about buying. What is the problem?
Alexander / April 1, 2014 at 09:45 pm
YAH down with people trying to make money! BOO on them! Am sure all the indie's don't care about sales or money! YAY indie's!

Lord, blogto types are so wonderfully naive. The location no longer makes financial sense for an industry that's dying in the face of Amazon. Why anyone would buy a book in a bookstore is beyond me. I guess y'all love paying 40% more, and good for you if you do.

If you are shocked that hugely expensive prime real estate isn't conducive to selling books that the competition is selling at 60% of the price online and with free shipping, maybe you need to grow up.
Phil replying to a comment from Webster / April 1, 2014 at 09:47 pm
Some people "use" books to blow their noses with.

Looking at the nasty ways books and magazines get manhandled by loiterers, you could objectively call them used. / April 1, 2014 at 09:51 pm
Sorry to see this location close :(
Crystal / April 1, 2014 at 09:58 pm
I wonder if they will sell any of their fixtures like HMV is currently doing. I'll take one of those giant bookshelves.
AvidX replying to a comment from Rick / April 1, 2014 at 10:46 pm
Yeah but you can't help but go and hang out there most days. Usually out for a walk down Yonge St. hit a few bars / restaurants on the walk down for a few pints along the way. End up down at Indigo on Richmond for awhile. Straighten out a bit, then hit a few bars along Queen Street.
Marc replying to a comment from Alexander / April 1, 2014 at 11:19 pm
Fuck off back to Vaughan, thanks.
Hanna replying to a comment from dee / April 1, 2014 at 11:27 pm
Well, dee I'm a few years older than you and I'm not sure what you are talking about. Maybe a 7-11?

All retail is based on the premise that you can look around with no obligation.

I spent my youth looking at books and magazines for hours at a time without any harassment from staff insisting I buy something. Where you ask? How about Lichtmans, The Book Cellar, Britnell Books, Maison de la Presse, Coles, Pages, etc.

Not to say I never purchased anything, but it was never conditional. No one ever asked if I was going to buy something in any of these places. Your argument is invalid.
Hanna replying to a comment from Abigail / April 1, 2014 at 11:40 pm
Abigail, you're missing the point. The practices of companies like Indigo are predatory. The smaller or more specialized stores that could do enough business in those areas were forced out, then Indigo proceeded to close the locations in those areas once they have eliminated all the competition. Not as you put it because it's a bit slower, but to increase their bottom line. Where else can you go at this point anyway? They don't care that the neighbourhood stores are gone because they now dominate the market. They are practically the only option left in retail books.

The sad reality is that for all their warm and fuzzy spiel, the humanity is gone. It's all about the bottom line. Even their CHARITY asks customers and their staff to provide the money for the recipient schools and then the schools use that money to BUY BOOKS FROM INDIGO. They get the positive PR and the profits. Genius!

By the way, the absolute only reason Indigo charges less online is because they have to price match Amazon. If Amazon stopped shipping to Canada for some reason, thee Indigo prices would jump overnight.
Abigail replying to a comment from Hanna / April 1, 2014 at 11:46 pm
Come on with your touchy feely, hopsey changey. Name one other book store that was ever in club district...who was forced out?
alanna l replying to a comment from Abigail / April 2, 2014 at 12:21 am
Pages, an excellent independent, was just a 2 minute walk up John only a few years ago. A few more years before that there was a great art book store (who's name, sadly, escapes me now) just down queen. Another design book store on Mccaul, others 5 minutes walk east and west etc...
Also, the stretch on queen around there was home to a whole bunch of used book shopes - all gone now.
I worked at Chapters when they first opened in Canada and saw first hand the ruthlessness with which they treated publishers, fellow booksellers, customers and the neighbourhoods they bought in to.
This sort of business model is vampiric, predictable and, unfortunately, very prevalent.
Shop small and shop local! The couple extra dollars you may spend will stay in your neighbourhood, be recycled and keep it alive.
godge / April 2, 2014 at 12:33 am
It's OK though, right, because we are getting LCBO's in our supermarkets.
mike / April 2, 2014 at 04:40 am
I hear that it is moving to the awesome Montgomery triangle

Montgomery triangle is awesome
Lori replying to a comment from June / April 2, 2014 at 08:19 am
How about trying a library, where you're meant to hang out for free!
Tom / April 2, 2014 at 12:40 pm
I live near the Runnymede one and was so upset when that one left,
And then i heard about Worlds Biggest, and now this one?!!?
Where are we supposed to buy our books now?
There are only a few other places that Chapters/Indigo are
David Hasselhoff replying to a comment from John / April 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm
Eat shit, John. The architecture is inspired. Frank Gehry designed the back of the AGO to match this building. EAT shit.
local replying to a comment from alanna l / April 2, 2014 at 01:04 pm
Bang on. The people who don't recognize the negative effect these big box stores have on downtown neighbourhoods formerly thriving with independently-owned businesses are, I'm guessing, in their twenties and have lived in the area all of five years. Zero perspective.
local replying to a comment from John / April 2, 2014 at 01:08 pm
Agreed. However the interior of the movie theater might be an even greater abomination. Cheap 'n fast architecture designed to appeal to ten-year-olds.
Steve replying to a comment from local / April 2, 2014 at 01:14 pm
This is a major problem right now. It's become a transient city with no culture, no sense of place, no sense of history, and completely obsessed with outside opinion. SF, NYC... transient cities have their place, but unlike with Toronto, new residents don't crap on the history of those places. They don't say, "oohhhh things change, deal with it or move to the suburbs". The heart never changes, won't change. They understand that it is the history of a place that attracts them.

Here? High salaries and the fact that it's not Picton or Bangladesh. It's one reason why city business moves at a crawl. No investment in the future, just the now.
Alex replying to a comment from local / April 2, 2014 at 01:38 pm
Chapters is closing because the physical book business is dying. An independent book store would be closing for the exact same reason. Chapters definitely killed a ton of independent bookstores, but they'd all be dying now anyway because that business model can't compete in the digital age so you can't say that if they hadn't gone in there the book shops there would magically still be around. Plus, as much as I love physical books I'd also love an ebook reader, because lugging around the lord of the rings or any of the games of thrones books is a lot harder than a light ebook reader. So bookshops also have that going against them.

I'm sad that Chapters is closing, but to be honest I've bought about 3 or 4 things from that location so it's not like I did anything to save them either. I'd also be much happier with another bowling alley or entertainment destination going in there, since that's what that neighbourhood is about. A giant laser tag arena perhaps? Geared towards adults with a bar in it of course.
Don replying to a comment from Abigail / April 2, 2014 at 07:00 pm
I kind of empathize with Abigail's perspective, only because so many people who hang out here are young, not from the area and have no idea what this neighbourhood was not very long ago.

Short answer to your question, Pages bookstore was the last local bookstore in the area. There were others - an amazing new and used shop between what is now Artizia and Claire's. Queen West is mostly a mall now with steady relics like the Black Bull, Peter Pan, The Queen Mother, Steve's, etc. The club district used to be full of small businesses, artists, photographers, a few real lofts, etc. Many are still there, but the Queen West Mall and expanding businesses have squished most out.

That Chapters is closing is no big deal. I feel badly for those losing jobs, but something else will fill in there and hire others and the balance will be kept. There's only so much real estate in this area and something will also ooze in to replace whatever closes.
annielicious14 / April 2, 2014 at 07:30 pm
Please say it isn't so. I'm always in there. That's a shame.
grey replying to a comment from Alexander / April 2, 2014 at 07:43 pm
They're the same people, but that doesn't mean they all follow the same policy. WBB was a different brand and had different rules.

I tried to price-match a book there last year and was told they just don't do it at WBB.
Jenifer / April 3, 2014 at 07:22 pm
Are you kidding me?? This was my favorite location!!!!
Bob / April 4, 2014 at 11:14 am
One of the best locations...I guess that's what did them in. That and the fact that most people go in there are there to kill time before a movie.
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